China Adventures 2016

Every year, my son, Skye and I travel to China to meet with our mushroom producing partners. The fall is a perfect time due to mild temperatures in central China and the arrival of the mushroom harvest. During the trip we will perform an audit of processing facilities and mushroom farms. Because there are multiple farms and different mushroom species are grown naturally according to ambient temperatures, we will see some species being harvested whereas other farms are still waiting for the first mature mushrooms to form.

Shiitake Mushroom Farm

In 2015 we were able to view mature shiitake, maitake and auricularia farms and growing facilities. This year we were able to see shiitake, tremella and best of all, Cordyceps militaris. Most of the farms are clustered deep in the mountainous areas of Zhejiang and Fujian Province. These areas are the traditional heartland of Chinese mushroom growing. In fact, mushroom growing was first started in these areas in the 12th century and since then has grown into the largest agricultural crop in this part of China.

Today there are approximately a dozen mushrooms that are cultivated on a truly commercial scale. It is not an easy task to develop a mushroom cultivar that can economically produce a high quality yield of mushrooms. In fact, it takes decades of strain development and substrate testing to finally achieve positive results. That is why the cultivation of C. militaris is so special. As a mushroom grower, I am always very excited to see a new mushroom being cultivated. So to see C. militaris growing on a large scale with the substrate surface completely covered with fruiting bodies was a very satisfying experience for me.

But even more satisfying is the thought that for the first time, Cordyceps mushrooms are available in quantity at a price that completely eliminates the need for the overpriced, wildcrafted Caterpillar Fungus or even the 100% mycelium product called Cs-4. This is truly a revolutionary turn of events.

2016 International Conference of Ganoderma Research Group Photo

During our stay we traveled to the city of Fuzhou to attend the International Conference on Ganoderma Research. This was a gathering of top Chinese and International scientists presenting current research: analytical, in-vivo and in-vitro testing, and even historical reports. Of particular interest was the work on quality control in Ganoderma products. Utilizing an array of testing methods, fingerprints of the important active compounds were created and evaluated.

Jeff Chilton with Lin Zhi-Bin

Jeff with Dr. Lin Zhi-Bin

The conference was headlined by Dr. Lin Zhi-Bin, Professor of pharmacology at Beijing University and member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. With over 100 published papers, he is considered the premier Ganoderma scientist in China. I first met Dr. Lin in 1994 when I attended a ganoderma conference in Beijing. I was very happy to see him again and I shared with him my recent work on quality control, Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms.

Dr. Lin delivered a keynote on the benefits of Ganoderma (Reishi), highlighting the primary benefits of reishi to be disease prevention. This is directly related to immunological modulation and positive effects on the homeostasis of endocrine, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. This is also why reishi is considered a genuine longevity herb.

Skye and I value our yearly trips to China and view them as the best way to insure high quality mushroom products for our customers.

Until next year,

– Jeff

Reishi Mushroom Dragon Art

A Dragon on display at the International Conference on Ganoderma Research made entirely from Reishi.