What are Fruiting Blankets and How do I Use Them?
We get a lot of questions on pest control as well as mushroom formation in the spring and summer months. There is a simple tool that can be used to help with both of these things. It's called the Fruiting Blanket- let's jump in!
What are Fruiting Blankets?
Fruiting blankets are another tool to keep in the toolbox for maximizing the yields and quality of your mushroom crop, and an inexpensive one at that. Fruiting blankets essentially create a micro-climate that is conducive to mushroom growth. Not only that, they offer a layer of protection to developing pins from the environment (rain, wind, etc) as well as deer, turkeys, and other pests.
When do I use Fruiting Blankets?
That all sounds great, so I just inoculate my logs and chuck a fruiting blanket over them and they'll grow? Well, not necessarily. It may seem counterintuitive, but your logs do need to live out in the elements to thrive. Rain, airflow, and yes, even snow provide different benefits. While a fruiting blanket can help protect your logs from sun and wind immediately after inoculation, you will want to make sure the logs are receiving regular water, which can be difficult to do efficiently if they are covered with material.
So when do I actually use this fruiting blanket? First, you will want to determine which fruiting blanket (light or heavy) will be most effective for the goals you have. Heavy blankets are primarily used (at least here in the Midwest) in the early spring or late fall to boost protection from cold temperatures and wind. Heavy fruiting blankets also prevent mushrooms from becoming saturated in heavy spring and fall rain storms. Light blankets are better for summertime production when the humidity is high enough to keep the mushrooms happy, but still provide protection for the occasional summer winds... not to mention protection from the more abundant wildlife.
Light Fruiting Blankets:
Best used in summer months to help with pest control and regular mushrooms formation.
Heavy Fruiting Blankets:
Best used in spring and fall months to protect forming mushrooms from heavy winds and rains.
What do Fruiting Blankets Do?
Fruiting blankets also are helpful when force-fruiting logs. When logs come out of the cold water, they're energized, and we want to capitalize on that momentum. After laying the logs down after soaking, a fruiting blanket will help create a controlled climate that will allow the mushroom pins to grow unimpeded. The blanket will help regulate temperature as well as localize humidity evenly around the forming mushrooms allowing them to grow uniformly and robustly.
You can use other materials instead of a "fruiting blanket", such as burlap, Reemay, etc. and they will provide similar effects. However, you will want to make sure that the material is breathable so that when the mushrooms "sweat" water doesn't condensate and fall back onto the developing mushrooms.
In conclusion, a fruiting blanket is a relatively inexpensive item to keep on hand considering the multiplying effect it can have on your mushroom logs.