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Log or Bag Cultivation? Which One of Them is Better and Why?

Log or bag cultivation? I was wandering what is the best way to cultivate wood inhabiting mushrooms and why? I launched these questions on a forum and I've got some answers from other growers. You may see them here
Let's see first what are the advantages and disadvantages of bag and log cultivation (I will list just some of them that are on my mind right now but you may add some more in the comments if you wish), and then let's find the right answers to these questions.


It's faster. Takes 2-4 weeks until pinning induction (depending on the species to be grown and environmental conditions)
Cultivation success. You may easily observe if you'll have mushrooms or not. Through the transparent bag foil you may see the spawn run throughout the substrate and notice if there occurs any contamination.
Mushroom yield. Bag cultivation allows you to easily weight all necessary ingredients needed for your formula and calculate the overall yield.
High quality mushrooms. Mushrooms in order to grow need nutrients. By using a mix of several ingredients into your substrate (e.g., oak sawdust, poplar wood chips, corn cobs, and supplements) you will provide enough protein, vitamins and minerals for you mushrooms in order to grow healthy and finally you'll harvest high quality mushrooms.
Resources. You may find plenty resources to grow your mushrooms on. Even if you are living in the city, you may find them in your own kitchen (peanut shells, paper, coffee grounds,..) or outside in the park (leaves, twigs, or any other dry plant,..)
Spent substrate recycling. Several types of spent substrates can be recycled and are suitable for cattle feed or soil improvement. For instance the spent straw used in oyster mushroom cultivation is used for cattle feed or the spent coffee grounds are used as additives for soil. Such habits may increase growers income and protect the environment.
Shiitake grown indoor. Photo: www.greenling.com 
Cultivation process. As I think the cultivation procedure is a bit harder then in log cultivation because you actually need to manipulate and pasteurize the substrate, you need to weight ingredients, add gypsum and more.
More effort. Obviously bag cultivation requires more effort for the same amount of mushrooms as you can get from log cultivation.
Grow room. You need actually a room designed for mushroom cultivation, and this is also because you need to provide them the proper conditions to fruit such as: temperature and humidity.


Long-term harvest potential. This is probably the main cause why some growers choose to cultivate their mushrooms on logs. Once a log inoculated you may harvest mushrooms from it up to 2 to 4 years (depending on several factors).
Stable environmental conditions. Within a log temperature and humidity are rather constant (now this depends on the log size as well and cultivation technique to be used).
Less effort. Compared to bag cultivation of mushrooms this requires less effort for the same amount of mushrooms.
Grow room. For log cultivation you don't need a grow room.
Spent substrate it's good for fire. Some growers increase their income by selling the spent wood that might be used in order to provide heat.
Stump degradation. It's a great way to get rid of huge stumps when you have no other choices.
Photo credits: www.3businessidea.blogspot.com
You have to wait until the first harvest. Depending on the used type of wood you will need actually to wait up to 14 months (when using hardwoods) and 8 months (when using softwood) until you'll have mushrooms.
Humidity. You have to maintain humidity within your logs by spraying them from time to time.
Cultivation success. It's obviously less then in bag cultivation because your logs are predisposed to a higher degree of contamination (let's remember that they are left outside where the alien sporeload in the air is much higher than in a grow room). In addition, if contamination occurs you may hardly see it, and probably when you will realize that  another mushroom is growing on your log it's going to be late. The competition of two species for the same substrate equals with poor harvest or no harvest at all
Danger of contamination spread. Once a log infected, contamination may spread to the other logs.
Resources. If you don't have trees around, then probably you'll need to bring some from other places.
Doesn't work easily for some species. Here I must quote someones opinion in the forum: "Maitake is one I have had no success with on logs, so I would not recommend log culture for that species." (M.K. Dorie). Looks like there are some species that are more suitable for bag cultivation than for log cultivation; however, there is a need of several opinions to sustain this point. Please feel free to add your personal experience in the comments section bellow.
Surrounding tree contamination. Obviously each time when you grow mushrooms outside in your backyard garden you endanger the other healthy trees in the area because when your mushrooms are mature they spread billions of spores around being taken by the wind and they have all the chances to infect your cherry or apple tress that you care about.
No recycling available for spent substrate. You may not use spent wood for animal feed.
Encourages deforestation. Now, this is a real concern among those involved into environmental protection, since growing mushrooms on logs for profit leads to mass deforestation habits that are against law and respect for nature: think twice before choosing to grow mushrooms on logs.

What I like to believe, is that depends on what's the purpose of your mushroom cultivation. Do you cultivate them as a hobby for your personal needs or do you wish to sell them to markets and restaurants? If you want   quality mushrooms quick, then probably you should choose bag cultivation. This requires more effort then log cultivation, but the chances to succeed are higher. On the opposite, if you consider harvesting mushrooms for a long time with less efforts for your personal and your family needs and you have plenty of resources around then probably you should choose log cultivation. However, keep in mind that the latter option is not really environment friendly especially when you choose to to this for profit and you use alien species to cultivate.
Generally, bag cultivation is suitable for commercial mushroom growing with few exception. This point of view is also sustained by the worldwide scientific community.

Interested in Oyster mushrooms cultivation? see The Beginner's Guide To Oyster Mushroom Cultivation at Home. This guide was designed for those wanting to cultivate oyster mushrooms in plastic bags in their household. If you need a more natural way of cultivating mushrooms have a look over: How To Grow Oyster Mushrooms on Logs

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