Clever coverings help fungi flourish in Fujian mountains

'White umbrellas' ensure healthy growth of valuable mushrooms

By Li Menghan | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-29 09:27
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"White umbrellas" are used to help purple Reishi mushrooms grow in Wuping county, Fujian province. CHINA DAILY

In mid-May, if you step into the mountainous forestland of Jiewen village in Wuping county in Longyan, Fujian province, you will notice a sudden drop in temperature.

The cooler location is home to a special crop of fungi, which are thriving thanks to the aid of "white umbrellas" invented by a local farmer in collaboration with local agricultural authorities.

Scattered across the brown soil beneath the trees, the umbrellas measure 40 centimeters in height and 80 cm in diameter.

Sheltered under them are purple Reishi mushrooms, some of which have already sprouted up 10 cm.

The use of the little umbrellas is among the innovative approaches employed by local growers to help boost the fungi's productivity.

The purple Reishi mushroom, or ganoderma sinense, is a valuable fungus prized in traditional Chinese medicine for its ability to enhance immune function and treat diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and even emotional disorders.

"Purple Reishi mushrooms demand precise environmental conditions for optimal growth. Thriving best in high temperatures and humidity, they prefer a temperature range of 22 to 28 C and humidity levels between 85 to 95 percent, and they should be shielded from direct sunlight," said Luo Ronghui, a 42-year-old resident who is responsible for a roughly 1 square kilometer plantation of purple Reishi mushrooms in Jiewen.

Having spent a decade working in Fujian's Xiamen, Luo decided to return to the village in 2012, drawn by the ideal natural conditions for fostering an under-forest economy and the prospect of selling the high-quality medical fungus and its byproducts, including tea.

The village, which led the nation in comprehensive forestry ownership reform in 2008 for ecological environment preservation, boasts abundant broad-leaved forest resources. Its forests provide a warm, moist and well-ventilated environment for the growth of purple Reishi mushrooms that, according to Luo, guarantee their high quality and high yield.

However, he emphasized that the ample precipitation in Fujian presents a hurdle for the fungi's cultivation. "During the spring of 2022, we experienced two months of continuous rainfall here, leading to the loss of more than 2.66 hectares of purple Reishi mushrooms in the area with poor drainage like low-lying areas," he added.

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