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Effect of Harvest Techniques on American Matsutake
(Tricholoma magnalivelare) Production

Joyce Eberhart (1), Daniel Luoma (1), Dave Pilz (2), Michael Amaranthus (1), Rick Abbott (3), Dan Segotta (4), and Andy Moore (5)

(1) Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 975331, USA.  (2) USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Forestry Sciences Laboratory, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.  (3) Umpqua National Forest, Roseburg, OR 97470, USA.  (4) Siuslaw National Forest, Florence, OR 97439, USA.  (5) PO Box 1141 Cave Junction, OR 97523, USA.

The American Matsutake, Tricholoma magnivelare, (Fig.1) is widespread in North America, but fruits most abundantly in the Pacific Northwest. The commercial harvest of matsutake is a multi-million dollar industry with thousands of pickers now harvesting the mushrooms from private, state, and federal lands. There is considerable controversy regarding how the resource should be managed. An important concern is whether raking surface soil layer to find young mushrooms will reduce subsequent fruiting. The objectives of this study is to evaluate the effects of several harvest techniques on matsutake production.

In order to asses the effects of harvest method on matsutake production, six treatments were implemented in two separate geographic areas of Oregon. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is along the central Oregon coast. Diamond Lake is in the Oregon Cascades about 1500m elevation. Both have areas that can produce large numbers of matsutake. However, each has a distinct climate regime and forest type. The costal location has a mild climate, seldom experiences freezing temperatures, and the dry summer seasons moderated by frequent cool, foggy days. Pinus contorta, and picia sitchensis are the dominant trees accompanied a by dense under story of ericaceous shrubs. abies procera and psudotsuga menziesii dominate the canopy and the under story is sparse (Fig. 3).Within each of these areas, 3 blocks were established to replicate the experimental treatments. Shiros (groups of mushrooms that are fruiting from an underground mat of mycelium, Fig. 4) were identified in 1994 and treatments were implemented in 1995. Plots were monitored in 1996 and 1997 by recording numbers and dry weight of sporocarps (mushrooms) from each shiro. Members of the commercial harvesting community were involved to maintain the integrity of the study sites. Signs (Fig. 5) and other educational efforts were made to inform the public of the importance of the study.

The following treatments were implemented, one each on a shiro in each of the three blocks at the two sites:

1) NH - No matsutake harvest (control)
2) BMP - Best management practice - harvest with minimal disturbance  (gently rocking and pulling)
3) SR-R - Shallow raking of  litter layers to the interface with the mineral soil surface, sporocarp removal and replacement of The litter
4) SR-NR - Shallow raking of  litter layers to the interface with the mineral soil surface, sporocarp removal and NO replacement of the litter
5) DR-R - Deep raking of the litter layers and 10 cm of mineral soil, sporocarp removal and replacement of litter and mineral soil 
6) DR-NR - Deep raking of the litter layers and 10 cm of mineral soil, sporocarp removal and NO replacement of litter an mineral soil 

Fig. 4. Andy Moore reveals a Tricholoma magnivelare shiro,  groups of mushrooms that fruit from a mat of mycelium and mycorrhizae. Under favorable weather conditions, shiros produce in the same area annually.

FIG. 1.  Tricholoma magnivelare
The American matsutake

Fig. 2. Dan Sagotta demonstrates the deep rake, no replace (DR _ NR) harvest in dense shrubs at the Oregon Dunes Recreation Area Site

Fig. 3.  Rick Abbott and Charlie Lefevre inspect a shiro harvested by removal of the litter layer and 10 cm of mineral soil, without replacement of the litter at the Diamond Lake site (DR-NR).

Charles Lefevre observes the shallow rake and litter replacement (SR-R) treatment at Diamond Lake

Fig. 5.  Public education sign installed at a study site

In order to detect treatment effects, we calculated for each post-treatment year an "expected" sporocarp production (the predicted number of sporocarps if plots had not been treated). These predicted values were derived from the percent change in average production for the no harvest controls for each year, thus tracking year-to-year variation. The percentage change was then used to calculate the expected average post-treatment production in treated plots. The following charts display the comparisons of the actual sporocarp production to the "expected" production.

1) NH - No harvest (control)
2) BMP - Best management practice
3) SR-R - Shallow rake, replace litter
4) SR-NR - Shallow rake, no replace
5) DR-R - Deep rake, litter replace
6) DR-NR - Deep rake, no replace
Chart 1.  Actual vs. expected matsutake production at the Diamond Lake study area, 1997 (n =3).


Preliminary results at Diamond Lake (Chart 1) suggest that careful picking has no impact on sporocarp production, nor did a one-time shallow raking with the litter layer carefully replaced. When expected numbers of sporocarps were calculated, the actual production of matsutake on deep rake treatments and shallow rake without litter replacement were significantly reduced (p<0.05).  Results are only shown for 1997 because fruiting in 1996 was so limited that the control produced no sporocarps and expected production could not be calculated.

Chart 2.  Actual vs. expected matsutake production at the Dunes study area, 1996 (n =3). Chart 3.  Actual vs. expected matsutake production at the Dunes study area, 1997 (n =3).
Preliminary results at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (Chart 2 and 3) suggest that there were initial treatment effects in 1996 on number of mushrooms produced in the more severe treatments. The beginning of recovery in production may be indicated in 1997




The results were consistent across the two region in that the BMP and a one-time SR-R treatment were similar to the control. at Diamond Lake. the more severe treatments (SR-NR, DR-NR) showed dramatic decreases in sporocarp numbers. We expect that the effects of repeated raking would be more severe than those reported here for a one-time raking. The small size of some shirro in the Dunes study may limit our ability to detect effects, particularly since some shirros stopped producing mushrooms. However, the initial effect of the more severe treatments is consistent with the results at Diamond Lake. There may be interaction effects with shiro size whereby small shirros are more sensitive to disturbance. The mild costal climate of the Dunes site may also affect the response of the shirro to disturbance.
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