Wet, wet, wet and sometimes dry. What a difference compared to last year. Fortunately, it is not as hot and the temperature is more or less normal. The sprinkler has only been used once this season so far, during a couple of dry weeks in the spring. Last year the sprinkler was regularly turned on at least twice a week for a couple of hours each time in an attempt to keep the air moist so that the logs would not dry out. If an inoculated log starts to dry out, small hair cracks will appear at the end of the log. Not the end of the world, but it is a warning sign. But… if the moisture content continues to decrease then there is a big chance that the bark will start to loosen up. Once the bark has fallen off the mycelium will quickly dry out (or get eaten by forest dwellers) and that is the end of a mushroom log.
Fungi like a moist environment and a reasonable temperature range somewhere between the mid teens and mid twenties. A little bit of a breeze now and then completes the perfect set of conditions. Once the logs were inoculated in March and April the fungus had to cope with low temperatures and lots of rain but this was followed by an increasing temperature, more sun hours and (short) dry periods. This has resulted in an active mycelium and can be seen at the end of the logs. Each white wedge in the photo is the mycelium that has developed from a spawn plug. The mycelium initially follows the length of the log and then expands along the radius. Result: looking good but there is still at least a year to go!