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Lactarius deliciosus and Pinus radiata in New Zealand: towards the development of innovative gourmet mushroom orchards

Guerin-Laguette, Alexis, Cummings, Nicholas, Butler, Ruth Catherine, Willows, Anna, Hesom-Williams, Nina, Li, Shuhong, Wang, Yun
Mycorrhiza 2014 v.24 no.7 pp. 511-523
tree growth, mulching, Lactarius deliciosus, grasses, mycorrhizae, orchards, monitoring, Pinus radiata, root systems, seedlings, branching, trees, planting, mushrooms, bark mulches, fruiting bodies, New Zealand
The cultivation of Lactarius deliciosus (saffron milk cap) in New Zealand began in 2002 when fruiting bodies were produced in an Otago plantation of Pinus radiata seedlings artificially mycorrhized by L. deliciosus. In 2007, 42 P. radiata seedlings mycorrhized by L. deliciosus under controlled conditions were planted in a grass field at Plant and Food Research (Lincoln, Canterbury). The effects of pine bark mulch application and initial degree of mycorrhization of seedlings were examined to determine their influence on tree growth, development of mycorrhizae (i.e. their multiplication on the root system and their degree of branching) and fruiting body production. Mulch application increased tree growth significantly over 4 years. High initial mycorrhization slightly stimulated tree growth over 2 years. The initial degree of mycorrhization was positively, but not strongly, related to the persistence and development of L. deliciosus mycorrhizae and rhizomorphs based on root sample analyses 2 years after planting. However, mulching strongly reduced the proportion of highly branched L. deliciosus mycorrhizae compared with poorly ramified ones. A positive correlation was observed between the fruiting of L. deliciosus and the development of mycorrhizae. Mulching delayed the onset of fruiting body production. In 2010, fruiting bodies were produced only from non-mulched trees with eight of these (38 %) producing a total of 12 fruiting bodies. In 2011, 19 non-mulched trees (90 %) and 9 mulched trees (45 %) produced 143 and 47 fruiting bodies, respectively, totalling 190 fruiting bodies. By 2012, 19 non-mulched trees (90 %) and 13 mulched trees (65 %) produced 333 and 236 fruiting bodies, respectively, totalling 569 fruiting bodies (c. 30 kg). This study presents new information on factors influencing the onset of fruiting and the development of yields in a plantation of P. radiata mycorrhized by L. deliciosus. Projected yields as high as c. 300 kg/ha from the third year of production reiterate the feasibility of farming saffron milk cap in P. radiata plantations in New Zealand. Continued monitoring of this site and development of similar trials will provide important knowledge for the optimisation of yields in commercial saffron milk cap orchards.