Commercial Spawn Production with Kasper Moreaux from Mycelia

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Commercial Spawn Production with Kasper Moreaux from Mycelia

Any mushroom farm in the world starts their process with mushroom spawn. Mycelia is one of the largest spawn producers in the world suppling some of the largest mushroom producers in the globe. We chat about challenges, innovations, finding and developing new strains, growing interesting hard to grow mushrooms, running a business with family, tips for making spawn at home, and so mush more.

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TRANSCRIPT
0:11 Welcome, welcome. You're listening to the mushroom revival podcast. This is your host, Alex Dora. And we're obsessed with the wonderful, wacky, mysterious, interesting world of mushrooms and fungi. We bring on guests from all around the world to geek out with us and go down the rabbit hole of all things fungal. So today we have Casper from Belgium. And so how you doing Casper? 0:40 Fine. Thanks, Alex. 0:42 So So who are you and what is my cilia? Where the sack? Oh two and what are you? What are you up to in Belgium? 0:51 We've been producing and experimenting and innovating with mycelium for about 45 years now. My Celia is a primarily mycelium producer. co2 is a company that produces breathing bags. And right now we also have an myceliated Academy which is a training center for professionals in mycelium knowledge and industry. 1:22 Amazing and mycelium was founded by your your mother, right? Magda. Yep, 1:31 my mom. I'm the youngest of three. I have an older brother and sister but they weren't specifically interested to continue the work of mum. So yeah, we were born into fungus. As you would say, it's, it's been my it's been my whole life. I've been dunked into mushrooms. So it's not really something new but it's been. It's been steering my life since I was born, really? 1:59 And how did Magda get into mushrooms and mycelium? 2:05 That was back in the 70s. And she was a student biology student, young, naive, obsessed and she had a teacher, a professor, and he convinced her that mycelium was the way to go. Like there was a huge lack of mycelium. Nobody had it. Everyone wanted it, they paid millions for it. And it was easy. And she should definitely as all the students should have started making mycelium. So she got convinced. So she started doing it turned out this professor was actually in half an idiot. He was very convincing, but not very clever. And the result was that she struggled for a long, long time to get it going. It's didn't appear to be as easy as it seemed. But she was stubborn, hard headed. She kept going and now 45 years later, we have a blooming business. But it's been 3:01 said then half of his wit seemed to seem to work. 3:08 I think mycelium, the Muslim world is full of people like this, like you are either crazy hardworking, or super enthusiast. And then you can survive and make it going but it's not for the faint hearted. It's for the really interested and people who really care about it. If you don't care about it shouldn't do 3:28 it. Right. Yeah, it's it's hard, you know, it's not easy. And, you know, I, I like to joke, you really have to be infected with quarter steps to do their bidding, you know, because it feels like that sometimes, you know, when you're working long hours in the lab, and you're just doing the same monotonous, you know, repetitive tasks over and over again. And you stopped to think, you know, like, why am I doing this? And you're like, Yeah, I'm just replicating fungus. And is it for me? Or is it for them? And who's really in control of my body right now, you know? And yeah, sometimes it feels like the fungus is in control. 4:15 And definitely partially true. Like, you have to really feel the passion. It's, it's really important. But that makes it also incredibly interesting. 4:28 And so this, this teacher was this in Belgium, 4:33 which was my professor, the professor, my mum. Yeah, yeah, it was. It was actually quite a convincing figure. But he was a professor at the University in Belgium when it was still hot to teach this kind of stuff that wasn't the 60s and 70s mid last century. 4:51 So trend was there a lot of mushroom farms in Belgium that didn't have a spawn provider like what what is the what is the most From seen, like in Belgium, 5:03 began to go back to the origins for that, like in the 50s and 60s, it became hot to grow white button mushrooms. At first, it was just a renewal. And it was done on the ground. And then it started in caves, there's plenty of caves around here. And people thought that this is a great way of making a lot of money under short and short notice. So farmers started started growing white buttons, their harvests were ridiculous, like they didn't grow anything on a really shitty material, but they got a really good price for it. So you got to see this as a as a hot topic in the 50s and 60s, where, where there was a novelty, and everyone wanted to buy it, and they would have given any price to get to get to the white buttons. But as time progressed, the spawn got better, the compost got better, the companies got more professional, the harvest got better, and the quality of the mushroom went up. So it used to be a fancy new product, like don't forget, right now we don't see it as a fancy new product anymore, because it's been around for so long, but it wasn't then. So spawn was something that was bought locally by small farmers who made a lot of money growing small amounts. And that is triggered small spawn producers like my mum to produce small quantities of spawn. And those were the golden ages for the small companies. So yeah, there were a lot of growers in Belgium, I think there were maybe four or 500. And at this moment, there's perhaps six out. And you could say the same thing for Holland, for example, which is quite renowned for the wide button industry. There were more than 1000 growers. And at this moment, there's not even 100. So that's scaling up. It's it's also quality improvement, like, actually, it doesn't sound like that. But we're much better off than the 50s where the quality of the mushrooms in their stores was miserable at best. 7:04 And did they kind of conglomerated into fewer but larger farms? I'm guessing. 7:12 Yeah. But yeah, most of them are really scaled up. And yeah. But it's also to have like if you have a 30% or 35% conversion rate of biological efficiency, we get a lot of mushrooms often substrate, you don't need as many square meters you can actually increase your production rate just by getting more mushrooms off the same bed, which is what ran all the time. We just increased the amount of product that you can make off the same substrate or Cobos. 7:42 Array right? Yeah, there. There's only really a few large producers in the US. And they they have incredibly large farms, comparatively. And there's a lot of conspiracy theories that I've heard that, you know, they're in the mafia or something like that. But, yeah, that that's really interesting to hear that there. There used to be hundreds and 1000s in and now there's not so many but but probably have gotten better about their trade and are producing better mushrooms and better techniques and and your story as an individual has has progressed pretty interestingly, throughout your life and your interests as well. You studied geology, and then went to study. vulcanology, which I'm guessing is volcanoes, correct? Yeah. And then diamond exploration professional fire art, which I'm curious what that is. And then now you're doing r&d For mycelium sack. Oh, two full time. How How did these interests kind of evolve over time? And do those paths interests help you today? 9:08 Do you want the honest story or? 9:11 Both? Okay, sometimes sometimes honesty is the most beautiful. 9:19 Okay, I think I think part of that story is just hardship. Okay, it's a large part of what I did was because of the misery we had, during the first 1020 years of myceliated cycle to like, honestly, that really shaped my childhood. We had nothing but problems. Everything infected. We always had troubles with clients and they wouldn't buy then you wouldn't provide and all the time something would happen. When was the present live in such an environment where parents divorced because of it? Then there was not enough money in and there was a lawsuit and all sorts of things. So by the time I was 18, I had promised myself I would never ever, ever set foot in the mushroom industry in my life, so I decided to become something else. So I went for geology, it sounded interesting. And it actually was a lot of geology. And then at the end of the studies, I thought, maybe a master with extra volcanology specialization. And I left Belgium, taught and traveling for five years, ended up in Australia where I did a lot of diamond exploration. And I loved the job, but I hated the fact that it was ripping apart the earth just for a few precious stones that I don't like at all. So I stopped that went back to Belgium after a broken heart. A good few years later, I and that was the episode where I did fine art, creating fire artwork and performing with it. So not really did twirling and twisting stuff, but mostly building machines. And we're quite technical. So I love building stuff that exploded and set ablaze etc. So after that episode, I needed money. So I started mycelium. And I noticed something had changed, but not not much at all. So I kind of rolled into it as I was healing my own broken heart, partially with mushrooms, by the way, but as I was doing that, I slowly rolled into it, and I rediscovered it. And discovered I actually did like it. I didn't just like I loved it. So yeah, a lot of things happen since and this is quite short story. But it's, it's been out of the misery first and then out of love later. If I may. 11:47 Yeah. Yeah. And is your Is your mom still alive? 11:53 Yeah, she's a special lady. 11:56 And what was her reaction of you? First stepping out of the business, but then coming back. 12:06 I guess she's all callers of the universe. But at this moment, she's just really happy to have someone continue to work. Because otherwise it would have gone away from a family owned business to a either a stopping or a, I don't know, sell out or take on. Yeah, it's still quaint and sympathetic, and small, and we're down to earth. And that's really a cool company. At the moment. I don't know where it would have been if I wouldn't have shown up because if you don't have a successor, what do you do? Yeah, much, not much you can do. 12:50 And, and it is, you know, there's pros and cons with working with family. And yeah, I'm in they're equally as good and bad. It's kind of like the phrase, don't shit where you eat, where, for me personally, I started mushroom revival working a lot with my family. And at first, it was great. And then after a while, you know, I kind of wanted my family back, just for family, you know, I didn't want to talk about work on vacation, I want to just enjoy family for family and not talk about work, and have a break. And I loved how all consuming it was, until it was all consuming. And took me over the over the edge, you know, um, and so it works for some people. And it works for some people for some times and others it doesn't. And other other times it doesn't. But, but really, I mean, what you were describing, I was thinking of so many of my friends with mushroom farms and mushroom businesses that have, you know, gone through divorce gone through so many hardships, and I've worked at companies in my company. I mean, it's hard. It's hard to, to do something that not many people understand this. That's right. And sometimes it's hot, and sometimes it's not. And it's just a lot of manual labor. And you're just kind of at the whim of so many outside forces and trying to attain biology, which biology is 90% untameable. So you're at the whim of a of a unpredictable living organism. So I'm just thinking so volcanoes, there's a lot of gas exchange happening. Obviously, it's very explosive. Does any of that study come into Sacco to with making these filter bags or anything like that? Or are they just completely different? 15:00 totally like it really comes in. like you wouldn't believe how much diverse knowledge you need in order to understand what fungi are, how they function or what their how to study them. This has been the drive of my life for the past years, and it's been really difficult. And every scrap of knowledge I had in my head has been useful to Kenyans has been very useful. Even in studying rocks, like, how do you grind rocks and use rocks, to our products, we use rocks, rocks to for all sorts of things. Like the hardness of materials, gas exchange, indeed, the way they interact, organic and inorganic compounds, and it would take us too far. But studying mycelium is complicated, very complex, and everyone's listening to this podcast will know what I'm talking about. It's incredibly complex, and you really need all the knowledge you have. Put that all to the forefront and use it all. And then you might get somewhere. So yeah, it's been, it's been super interesting, like developing the breathing back is been a huge effort. It's taken us 30 years to get to where we are now. And we keep finding unbelievable information. Right now we've, for the past five years, we've been developing machines to measure gas exchange in living organisms like inside, which sounds like something stupid if you hear it for the first time. But think about like, gas exchange inside living organism, like measuring it all the time continuously over a serious, long period of time. That's not easy. Like it's not easy at all. Because you can't like stuff something into the windpipe of a fungus, it doesn't have an impact. So you got to quantify that somehow. This is hugely complicated. The thinking of the system, how to and then developing a machine that does it for you, because we can't do this forever, manually. That was the massive job. And now you get all these data. And then you want to do something, which are you want to learn how they behave? Why did they grow like this? Why don't they grow like that? How has it happened with this species? Or that one? What if we apply more gaps? What if we take away the co2? What if we replace it by nitrogen? What if we do it by 10%? Like all these things, it gives us incredibly interesting information about the life of these of these creatures. And so that's the second two part myceliated is a completely different ballgame. Like they're, we're growing it. And we're looking at many different species and how to behave, what they eat what they like, or dislike, or they create their compounds that we find useful. We forged the forest like you should, if you're in this business, it's that's endless. I mean, we've been doing this for so many years. And still, I feel like we've only scratched the little bit of surface. Like, there's so much work to be done. And there's so few people to do it. 18:21 For people who've never stepped foot in a spawn facility, or have never maybe seen a mushroom filter bag in their life. And this, this is probably going to be another two part part question and answer. But do you know the show how it's made. I don't know if they run it in Belgium. Actually, now it's a show that basically looks at different industries. And they give kind of a maybe a 10 minute episode of how it's made. And so it can be like a soccer ball start to finish or a Pepsi bottle or like any, any things and they talk about all the machines that they use and kind of like from the harvesting materials to the very end product once it goes off the shelf. So for people to kind of visualize auditorily the inside once you walk through the front door of my cilia and Sacco to what is kind of the full process of these two companies and what's happening inside. 19:32 Yeah, that's a very interesting approach. And we absolutely tried to do that. Like since the 90s. My mum started sharing all sorts of information. And it started off small. The first application is actually a group from Nepal I think, and they wanted to learn how to make support. So she taught them my mom is a very generous person. She's a very nice Nice lady. And she can be started up very, very nice. And they went away happy. And she thought that actually I might do this again. And it ended up in a series of consultancies and more and more people came. And we started showing the people how we did it. We make bags, we use them, what hygiene is how it should be done, the pitfalls, but it started with just spawn, because that was what we did spawn. But after 10 years, perhaps, we started realizing that the need and the demand for teaching for for training for for knowledge was just almost unquenchable is huge. And people really needed more. And they asked for more. And they really wanted us to teach more. So we started doing it in groups. And this was 2011. We started with a substrate and mushroom growing course, which was a small group by then. But then it evolved. And now we're doing four to five trainings a year. And we actually have people coming over to our place. We've in the, you know, in the slipstream of that evolution, we've been recording plenty of videos and how tos. And since last year, we've actually recreated a spinoff, which is called myceliated. Academy. So it's a completely different company now, but this is new, because a website only launched this week. But the idea is double first, of course, it's a business, we want to live off it. It's the idea. But second is we want to give good industrial knowledge to everyone who was involved in fungi, fungal production, because we know firsthand how hard it can be. We are very passionate people. And we absolutely want to share this information. So it's not just for us, it's actually even more for the people. Because we believe there is a an enormous need of real good information, valuable, reliable, not the kind of information where you scratch your head and think like, did they actually actually try this? Or are they just making it up as they go? Now that kind of information? Like, you need? You need someone who knows, like, Okay, this been tried and it didn't work? Or not idea haven't tried, it can answer you? Or who has a plane correct answer, like, yeah, it's known, this is the answer. Don't try it again, because it's unknown. And that's, that's where we're at, like, the whole industry is actually professionalized quite quickly, I can see the quality is going up hugely last last five to 10 years, people are getting getting ready and ready and woken up to the need of the customer, which is a need for high quality, organic stuff they can trust, the growers have to up the game too. And this is only possible with good knowledge that we can, we can rely on, the knowledge is out there, it's not a problem. The problem is not that the knowledge is not around, it's just that you got to have all the knowledge grouped at once, like, if you don't have it, it takes years to find out. And this is this is I believe, how we can help the whole industry to go ahead. I have a very strong belief in this academy. We we started with five very passionate people, all leaders of industry. And we, we did it because we want to make a difference because we believe that we can make a difference. We have the knowledge most of the these five people. I'm the youngest of the five and 43. My mom's 70 and Keystone 65 and Yogen 6364 At the moment, and then my wife means a lot to her she's fully three as well, actually. Well. We all believe that we can we can make a difference. We we know that there's a need and we want to do this. So it's not quite a how to video. But I don't think you can fit the whole mushroom industry in how to video if you want to know how psycho to bag is made. That's not not difficult. You just buy a bag, rip it apart, and you will see how it's made. Anyone who knows a bit about making bags knows knows how it's made. That's not the point. The point is much more complicated than just a seal here and a seagull there and a green here and a boil there. I mean, it's much more complicated. It's everything that comes around it. So that I think is the true story of how hoped to, and he doesn't fit in one video. 25:02 Yeah, and for people who are brand new and have never heard the word spawn or filter bag before it's it's like a plastic bag filled with sterilized maybe millet or a grain with mycelium, which is the roots of a mushroom. It's sealed with kind of a filter patch on it that doesn't allow bacteria in but allows the fungus inside to breathe oxygen and let out co2 and do that. And then mushroom farmers use that bag to as basically their, their seed, quote, unquote, to grow to grow mushrooms. And you have a really interesting page on your website talking about how you artisanal the craft the spawn, with sometimes you said, a combination of seven to 15 types of raw materials to create the perfect mix per species. So each species you said should have a different substrate and should have a different air exchange should have, you know, all these different properties were kind of the go to right now for most growers, they have the same spawn recipe, the same gas exchange, same filter bag, for all the different species that are growing. And what I'm hearing from you is that they should all be different, just like every plant has a different, you know, pH and temperature and soil mixture and things like that. So what is what does that process look like? Is it kind of completely random, you're just throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks? Or is there some sort of method to the madness of matching substrate to species. 26:59 There is a method, but it's not simple. But there are a few recipes that are clear winners, that everyone knows that everyone uses, because we know they function very well. Examples, a gar make ours just to justify an agent, but you can add something small to it like potato dextrose extract or some yeast, or perhaps a bit of malt extract. And there's plenty of other recipes that work very well. I think we have 35, and we actively use at least 12 recipes. So but it's all based on the same principle, you just have a bit of a gar and a petri dish, and then some additives. So those are, that's a clean way. Now we then make liquid spawn, then of course, you can vary indefinitely. But if you just have a 0.4% of malt extract and and add some water to it. And perhaps if you want you can add some yeast in some cases, then most often you have a winner. It's a very simple and very highly efficient recipe for a liquid. And for grains, very highly efficient recipe is millet, millet is actually the most nourishing, most most stable grain there is. But on the other hand mill it's a pain in the ass to produce. If you're a small scale grower, you can use millet. But be careful because oysters don't always like it. But they can can start growing all sorts of stroma. And things you don't want to see but minutes definitely a good one. We use a mix of different recipes. So for most of our sponsor would fondly we have a mix of millet for example with with colza, which is a small green as well. So we had maybe three or four greens together which have more or less the same size, but we have different cooking times. And we add them together. And we make sure that it holds the water well. So you need a water holding agent as well, like you would have in most recipes. And then at the end, we have some calcium carbonate to level it out. Make a nice blend, Baggett and then autoclave it and cooled down. Is that a difficult process to get through a recipe like that? Yes, it's a very difficult process. It's taken us at least 15 years and it's almost impossible to copy. Why not because we have all the secrets of the universe. That's not the case. If you go to companies like for example Silvan in the states you will see that very simple recipes based on some one single grain for example can be wheat, right? Maybe millet, it can have some chalk can maybe have an extract a yeast or something else. It won't be much I mean it's quite safe. Pool. But the key is not really a lot in exactly how these recipes are made of, it's the whole thing around it. It's the quality of the grain. It's the management of the quality, it's how you mix them. It's how you cook it to the right degree, it's then how you treat it afterwards, you're going to have a bulk system, I got inoculated, what's your Nokia, like? What's the quality we are lacking. So it's, it's in the details. It's not just a recipe, the recipe is, of course, very important. But don't overrated, it's just one of the elements. Now, if you're a small scale, I'd say you have the easiest job in the world. Because you can go for a single grain recipe, you have all the controls you need, you make a small quantity, you inoculate it, you have it on hand, you control the whole process, you can so you can make a beautiful first hand product. The only thing is, if you're going to scale up, it becomes just impossible to do it yourself. It's not worth it. Like, guys like us, we can make it much cheaper than you guys can ever do it. So that's it's just not worth it. If you scale up. It's you can still make spore but just make it for fun, or because you like yeah, that's that's the main thing. But though, recipes, very important, but there's a few really good recipes around. You can find them on shimmery.org If you want I mean, they're around, trust them, they're good. That's not the thing, like use the recipes, they're really good. We use them all the time. If we makes more small amounts of substrate here, we just have some really good pellets, when or when it from they're really nice compressed pallets of straw or wood. And we just add boiling water. And that's it. I mean, it's very simple. And then we inoculate under a laminate floor. We're a large company, we still do that stuff. And it's good. We do it because it's good. It's just you can't use the systems. If you scale up, if you scale up, you got to be well, easy. I mean, that's, that's, that's the difficult part of the mushroom industry is not making a small quantity in your lab and your lemon flow, because that's going to work. It's how to scale it up how to do it properly, how to never fail, because you can't afford to fail. The customers wouldn't make what up? So I think I hope that's a bit of a bit of an extensive answer that answers your questions for 32:30 probably most of our listeners don't grow mushrooms, but I'm sure that the bulk of our listeners who do probably are doing it in their in their home, and you know, probably philosophy cubensis and they're probably using a rye berry for for spawn and probably doing it in mason jars or something like that. I remember when I was growing and and even in commercial production, there was so many debates on the proper way to make spawn. And, you know, I used up to a few ingredients but but never, never up to seven or 15. But I heard so many people talking about, oh, you got to do an overnight soak. And then other people didn't do an overnight soak. And then some people said, Oh, you you have to do a pre boil. Other people said no, you don't have to do a pre boil, you only have to do a soak or some people, you know, they just throw it all in one bag. And then they throw it in the pressure cooker. And they just found the perfect ratio of maybe oats and water and you know, a couple other ingredients. And they could just throw it all in a bag and cook it right there. So, you know, I've heard the debate about there's some bacteria that can withstand the high temperatures of a pressure cooker. And that's why you need to soak it beforehand and you know, the cooking it beforehand or boiling it beforehand. You know you're getting the right moisture content. What's your take on all of this? Does it depend on the grain? Does it depend on your process? 34:21 It's so key is beneficial if you have the time. Yeah, industrially we don't do it because we don't have that time. If we did have the time we probably soak it. Yeah, because it helps. It helps reduce the cooking time helps absorption of water etc. So if you have the time, why not so I would do it. I wouldn't exaggerate. It doesn't have a lot of impact on bacteria. No positive impact anyway, if you leave it in the water for too long and have a negative impact, not just spray it the yeast and all sorts of stuff. Who will these microorganisms are In essence will start eating the good stuff before the fungus can get to it and they create even mycotoxins if you're not if you're not careful, so I wouldn't do too much. I just soak it overnight perhaps, if you have the time and then boil it. Now we personally we don't boil that we don't soak it up. We just pour it and it works perfectly fine. Just boiled up to the point where of every 10 grains you have like two that are not jellified, then you're kind of right, that's more or less how you want it. Now, if you're using millet, for example, you will not look at jello vacation, you will more look at the amount of bursted grains because you don't want them all to burst. Now, why not bursting. If your grain start bursting, you have all this starch and free sugar at the end, that will be free floating between the grains, and a matrix of sticky stuff, which is very nutritious. So you're actually increasing the chance of getting of giving a foothold to infections. It's also decreasing your mix ability, you want to mix it properly. So that is my take on the things you. It's indeed a quite complex and sensitive thing. Don't underestimate how complex and sensitivities. But if I hear those discussions that you speak of which I've never taken part of, I have the impression that there's a bit of a lot of hearsay and Chinese whispers around as well. And I'm not sure if that's happened. That's helping a lot. 36:43 Now, it's that's mostly low tech, mushroom cultivation. Yeah, in Dutch, 36:49 we call it consumed booth starts, which is the healthy, the healthy brain of a farmer. That's basically how I approach most of the stuff that we do. Right, have a high tech facility here. It's all computerized, and it's clean rooms and machines that do it for us. But we approach it with a healthy farmer's instinct, that is really important. So if you feel like soaking for us, great, you have great results, then just keep on soaking. And if you have bad results, then stop soaking. I mean, in the end, what matters if you have good grades in the end or not. And you can you can achieve a good soaking and you can achieve with that. So it's not a problem. Good sterilization, though, is unavoidable, you have to sterilize properly. If you don't know how to sterilize properly, you can't make good spall. 37:50 For people that get either their grains too wet, and it gets kind of, you know, bacterial, or they get Trikha Derma. Where do you where do you feel like people go wrong with making greenspon either at home or on a large scale. 38:13 They usually the same problems large scale small scale. And they boil down to a number of problems. But I'd say there's five very important ones. The first one is that during the making of the substrate, there the hydration is not ideal, which is creating like a soggy mass of grains shouldn't exceed what depending on the grain but wouldn't exceed something like 42 to 46%. Otherwise, you're having too much water. I'm not talking about quality steps. But for most grains, that is just the cases that the first one if you have it very soggy and wet, you're bound to get bacteria because the union and allowing your product to breathe like it has to breathe. And believe me we know about breathing and every bit of mycelium should be allowed to breathe. So not too much water, second, sterilization and everything that comes with it. So, if you're not sterilizing properly, or insufficiently, especially when using bagged goods, then you easily end up with a bag that is not 100% sterile, meaning the bacteria have survived. You only need one to survive. Well usually it's not just one but even if you have a tiny bit of bacteria will overrun your bag in no time especially if your bag is soggy. So you actually have two factors that can make each other make they can strengthen each other So that sterilization now, if you have improper sterilization, you can see it because you haven't got because you have bacteria. If you have a fungal infection, it doesn't have anything to do with sterilization out of the equation because fungi die at 65 degrees Celsius. How much would that be? Let's petpace diarization, you say 6565. 40:26 About 150 Fahrenheit 40:28 150. But 150 Fahrenheit, fungi and fungal spores are dead. So if you have a green mold problem, it's not your sterilization. Its most likely hygiene. And hygiene is a monster with many heads. It is invisible. Nobody likes it, and therefore it is often neglected or forgotten. Hygiene is absolutely without question, the number one reason why products get spoiled. And that's small scale, large scale, no matter. We've seen all sorts of crazy things in our lifetime, and half the times that we see a problem it boils down to hygiene. What does that mean? It means everything from the cooling down phase. For example, if you have a pressure cooker, you cooling it down, you gotta cool it down with sterile air, because at the beginning, you will just expose its steam, but at a certain moment, you got to replace that steam by clean air. And with clean air, I don't mean cleaned air, I mean, sterile air 100% Guaranteed sterile air. That is one of the main reasons for product spoilage. So you have to lay down under a laminar flow, there is no other way. There is some success, sometimes with filters, but I don't like it at all. It's very difficult, it's risky, and I wouldn't do it, I would definitely use a laminar flow to cool down. We do it all the time. So we have an autoclave. It's a pressure cooker, which is a bit bigger. Same principle, but more complicated. And we have an air inlet, which opens up at 0.1 bar or less, and opens up at the end of the sterilization phase. Letting in stare out there. Absolutely need that. Point 3.4 is inoculation itself, it's a whole process, it's a multi step process can be in bulk like a bulk inoculation. But it can also be in from back to back, if you're opening just one bag and adding the inoculum to it. That's a second option if you're not doing this properly. And this is a very complicated process. Don't underestimate it. If you don't do it properly, you get infections. And this is often where the green most public. So green molds when you get them in production, and I'm in spawn, they usually come from the cooling down phase after sterilization or from the inoculation itself. Now, of course, there's many other places where you can get infections. So I'm getting to the last one. The last one is where you have a problem during your inoculation. And this is in industrial settings, it's kind of rare. If it happens, it's often bag related, can be job related. But it can often be definitely if you're working on your own. And if your conditions aren't great. And if you made your own filters, even the smallest hole can spoil a product. And that's often also where green most capable. So basically, to wrap it up bacteria, you want to look at your sterilization. Not always, but in general. Green molds you want to look at the cooling down, we'll look at the bags. You want to look at inoculation most 43:53 great, yeah, the very in depth answer. And it also starts at the culture which you guys have an extension, extensive culture library, on your site, from everything from a Petri dish to a culture slant, and what was the third, it's like a cryo storage or something like that. 44:19 Yeah, it's full backups, Deep Freeze backups. Interesting. You can make a backup in a freezer at minus 80. But you can go even colder nitrogen but you can also keep it floating in tube of water in the fridge or not in the fridge. Distilled water usually you can keep spores for prints. You can keep them on a stick. You can keep them in an honest land just in the fridge for years to there's plenty of ways to keep your culture stable. But if you don't have the technology, I'd keep it very simple. I'd make a transfer every two You have three years. That's it, just to keep it. But of course, that doesn't guarantee you industrial production level. Straight, like you have to maintain it properly. But but if you just want to keep it straight, that's probably not enough. 45:16 How do you? How do you initially find or produce an industrial strain? The first time? Yeah. 45:31 I don't recall it's been well, I'm all sorts of things like, we had a program for many years where we were trying to find the ideal shoe tacking, for example, we're breeding sort of crossing and making process, lots of crosses, and screening hundreds of types, making charts, trying to get it all done, but in such a huge effort. For the end, we realized we had to stop the whole program, because we encountered a serious problem with Chinese imports, she talking in Europe, states had an even worse problem at that time. So a lot of lot of companies went bankrupt. But we also had the same problem in Europe, but European market was a bit more resilient. So we actually survived. But that's when we had to stop developing our own sheets, okay, so that's one way to do it, you just make crosses, and you select the best ones, you can do this with the assistance of markers, and then some, some DNA analysis, etc. So genetic analysis, or you can do it traditionally, just by crossing and growing and see what comes up. But there's other ways, our most favorite way is just to walk into the forest and see what we bump into. Become Nolan. Grow them and see what happens. That's how many of our streets came into existence. But there's also been research labs in the past, but all around the world are disappearing because of lack of money from the government's. But there used to be a lot of effort going into breeding, like, for example, the highly successful hybrids of the oysters, they will read in the 70s and 80s. Now something that you're saying, but since then, not much at all, there's been a few new strains, like the smallest ones, etc, but nothing much like, it's not that people aren't trying, but it's just that the big budgets on their brains to be people that that was their life. It was their life, they were breeding day in day out for years and years. So they had a very good view on what they wanted. But there's not that much of that anymore. Today, to be honest. So there's not that much breeding going on in the mushroom industry anymore. So I feel like, sorry, 48:02 I feel like it is coming back with the explosion of psilocybin predominantly in the US, but you know, Australia, probably is gonna come up and, and a few other countries, and I'm sure Canada. There's actually a lot going on in Canada right now as well. But yeah, I'm hearing all sorts of techniques from CRISPR to Protoplast. Fusion to other techniques, I totally forgot their names. But yeah, it seems like it's, I mean, we saw it with with cannabis in the States, it's, you know, it's all about the strain and everyone saying they have the new super strain and all about genetics and, and strain development. So I feel like we're gonna have the same exact thing with, with philosophy and, and I feel like, those people that were doing it in the 70s and 80s, are gonna get their funding again. And people you know, are good. Yeah. Because the money is there, for sure. So this is gonna be exciting. And 49:10 this CRISPR tool. Now, this is unbelievable that you can really design specifically target genes specifically replace them. It's unbelievable. Like, ethically, it's a different different discussion. But what you can do this is yeah, incredible. Like, this is this is revolutionary. It's not that difficult. Like most of the labs, I know something about genetics, they can do it. So but it's largely it's a money, it's an economic issue. Like if there's a lot of money to be made, the development will be there. It's as simple as that. So 49:48 you were talking about maintaining cultures and you know, recommending minimum training For, you know, one every three years for the master culture, maybe more for a commercial strain. Probably you guys do more. But what about for imperfect fungi? I know when we were growing cordyceps militaris That was insane how quickly the cultures would cements and you know, six months and that culture wasn't viable to fruit anymore, and it still grew mycelium, but you know, it just kind of petered out. So I'm curious if that's if you notice that with all imperfect fungi, or is yeah, what what kind of differences in in challenges do you see? 50:46 It's a completely different thing. But it's quite similar, most Asko my seats most imperfect, as you would call them, they they have a high citizens rate, they, they deteriorate very fast, they don't form sport for sports anymore. They don't fruit anymore, depending on how they behave. It's a very common thing with Eskimo seas. I can't speak for them, because there's too many of them, but the maybe 100 I know, they all behave a bit similar. morels are a bit more stable, though. But we'll get to that later, I guess. Now, the quadriceps is a very quick, deteriorated to share it so quickly. You has a blink of an eye like we have four months as a rotation period. And we totally Yeah, and it's it's just but that's that's actually slow. If you look at species, like for example, metarhizium or 51:52 Veria, 51:53 Bassiana. No, that's actually quite slow. That actually doesn't it? Oh, interesting. 52:00 But metarhizium does basters 52:01 but not as fast? Yeah, yes, in metarhizium, we have a time problem, you can't keep it for a long like, even if you don't have a lot of multiplications. After a certain time, just like encoding steps, it won't do its job anymore, you need to go back to the source, as we say. But it's possible to do that just by by sub culturing. But it's even better to go back to a, an insect. Yeah, for various well, but the various the advantage that it keeps quiet well, in a dish. So the effective time is not as large. But you can't do a lot of multiplications either, if you want to go above three, you're getting into trouble. But that is a huge advantage of one over the other, for example, now, but there's many other species. So each species that we've worked with for quite a while has a different approach. And they're all very important. They have enormous potential potency and potential, so we have to research them. But we've noticed that they all deteriorate quite fast. You have to go back to the source. But we do that with with with perf, perfect fungi as well on the estimate. So it's only the highly stable hybrids that don't deteriorate after a certain amount of time, but most positive mindsets. So like the fruiting mushroom types, we also have to go back to the source. And in that case, the source is a mushroom. So it actually is a re cloning of a mushroom that we often do just to refresh his culture in Ascot might, yeah, so the imperfect, we often have to do a similar thing. But then to us sometimes involves crossing. 53:47 Do you have like a fun Gary, some of you know, the original sources of the mushroom, I'm guessing you keep them dried, maybe in freezer or something? 54:00 Not really, we have, well, we have a backup. But we have frozen backup. And like I said, we have a multitude of techniques. It really depends on the species because they all have different things. So we try to adapt to the species. I think we have five types of, of long term storage systems. Cool. 54:21 And And speaking of Bavaria Bassiana you did a really cool collaborative project in Switzerland, with using Bavaria Bassiana on some grubs that were parasitizing some grassland. How did this project go? And what do you do projects like this often? 54:43 Yeah, all the time. We've We've got projects running simultaneously, a bit around the globe. There's a big one going on in the States at the moment where we're planting trees with Chaga and cooperation with with the group from In and a group from Estonia. But this group project was a great success because in Switzerland have a great problem with grubs have what they call again, pop chafers, I think. And they were eating away. So the larval stage eat away the roots of the grasses and the grass without the grassroots like the slopes of the Alps, which the Swiss are very proud, as you may have noticed, they would just start sliding down. So what erosion but as bad as it looks like nothing left after that, in order to deal with that, they've started using the Bassiana and upon Yachty, as well. So both are both various pieces. And the results are absolutely unbelievable. We can just use liquid products, bit of sports soup, basically sprayed all the fields, and you really seriously decrease the amount of grubs. And that's the beautiful thing, you're not killing them all. You're not erasing a species from from the earth, you're just keeping it under control. You're restoring an ecological and normal balance to the ecosystem, which I love. 56:18 So that's really good. That's the first time I've heard of people using it for like landslides that really interesting. 56:28 They don't golf course they have the same problem. Ha. 56:33 Yeah, I mean, it makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. 56:37 Why widespread things becoming more important, and especially, like, for example, in England, where they trim the grasses with a nail clipper, so to speak, they're really fun of their grasses. So they often are very sensitive to not having better patches, for example. It's a very easy solution to this, this problem. 57:02 So one of our listeners, one of my dear friends, Phyllis Ma, she actually recommended that I interview you. And she sent in a few questions of her own that I already asked a couple than I have a couple coming up. But this is one of hers that she asked me to ask you was what your thoughts were on morale production. 57:27 We're getting there. Finally. It's amazing doing this since 1985. Bob's been a very, very tough and bumpy road. I remember in the late 2000s, like 2004 or five, we got to the point where we got our first morels and it was starting to work. And then all of a sudden, the company who was working with us on the project for it 10 years or so they decided to stop. And 15 years later turns out that we just we actually just cracked the code. And so we just continue with the research that we were doing before. And now let's do it, we're doing quite well. So we have large patches of land that we're solving, at least with partners, mostly in France, some in Belgium, and a lot in Spain, as well. So that those are the main regions. There is an operation started up in Poland as well. So at least in Europe, and I'm guessing it the same for us. It's coming up. Yeah, we have seen a lot of indoor trials as well. But none of them have been successful over longer periods of time. So I'm not quite sure that we've tried a lot of that as well. But we weren't quite happy with the results yet. So anyone who's cracked that code Great. Hope that they will share it one day, but we haven't outdoors though. We have made great progress. And yeah, 59:04 we absolutely that's awesome. 59:06 We get our getting. 59:08 I went to this conference in Nan Tong China in 2019. And there was a presentation about outdoor Morel production and they showed some slideshows of huge outdoor farms have just rows and rows and rows as far as the eye can see of morels. I don't know what species that they were growing but they were talking about the nutrient bag technique. I don't know if that's what you're using or a different technique. It seems like that might have been the first technique that was invented way back in the day. 59:44 That was exactly what we did in the 80s and 90s. Supplying the nutrients and then taking it away because we realized that that is the moment when they start forming the Sclerotium but today we are developing systems where you don't need to remove them. nutrients anymore. And it works just as well. It's just a way how you treat it. Now, the only thing with morels is if you have a region where it freezes late in the year, the risk of failure becomes unacceptable. And I think a lot of trials interesting that failed because of that, we didn't realize the impact of a dramatic temperature drop early in the year. And the more and more known you go, the more difficult and more risky becomes. So that's why France and Spain are now more interesting. But thanks for thanks to climate change, I'd say but it's not more of it thankful for. Thanks. Thanks to climate change. Belgium has also become a good region for it. But is it the anxiety is still is still predominant, but is it in? 1:00:54 Is it in similar regions as grapes? For wine? 1:00:59 Not really? No, not really? No, no, it's not called Paris? It can be but it doesn't have to be so much. Yes. 1:01:08 But similar idea that you're you're really looking at the perfect climate and temperature to grow these. So 1:01:18 I mean, no, no, no, no, no, it's okay, just me home nicely breathing healthy soil. Great. And of course, there will be differences. And of course, there will be better producing blocks. But as far as we've seen, and we try a lot of types of soil, the difference is not that huge between soils. We haven't even noticed any. So it's, it's mostly the rest at this moment that counts. 1:01:50 Yeah. So we talked about, you know, some ask them I see morels? Are there any other kind of weird or unique species of fungi or mushrooms that you're in development or hoping that we'll be wide, widely available? And kind of the code cracked, so to speak? What species are you hoping to have the code cracked in the horizon? 1:02:25 Well, I have one, but I'm not going to share it too early. I want to take it openly. But I do like it's a biostimulant. Nice. So it's stimulating plant growth, but actually really unbelievable. Unbelievable. But the trials are still underway. So with third year of trial with Amazon, it's it's hard to study and it takes a long, long time before you know what you're up to. I sincerely believe that there's a massive potential still for any ascomycete application in the form of biostimulants. And by a control. I think that's underrated. And it doesn't receive enough attention publicly. But there's a massive potential there. But of course, it will require a change of attitude of farmers as well, it's not going to come just by producing a product. But if you want to get rid of more pesticides, that's the way to go, I think really have to crank it up enough to produce it large scale and will be cheap. If you really want to get inspired by this stuff, I would strongly suggest you to look at South America and South Africa and India, where they are actually way ahead of us in the US and Europe. In terms of biopesticides for example. Yeah, based on fungi, they are nailing it. I mean, yeah, I'm important for what they're actually doing. Why is it not happening here? Because yeah, the chemical industry is very strong at one point, but not just that. It's also regulations in Europe. It's mostly regulations. I mean, there's there's different reasons but if you believe if you would ask me what the most the biggest potential will be, that's where the biggest potential is at the moment. And if that's awesome, let's not forget, the biggest and best product that we have is just simply simply edible mushrooms. I mean, how unbelievable is that? Just edible mushrooms. It's the miracle of life. And it's just, it's we're just so used to it that we don't think about anymore, but this is this is still the number one product that we have getting new strains and new tastes new species. That's just I think we just have to realize the beauty of the mushroom types that we already have helis energetic or not everything and we have a special inspiration. So let's just let's just not forget that 1:04:59 yeah, Yeah, it, it's always cool as well to travel to different places to see whether it's indigenous communities or just, you know, more the the wider public like, what, what's the most common mushrooms eaten in different regions? And and you know, the different folklore around them and you know, both the Latin name and then all the common names salt that the many, many common names that come with it. Yeah, and how they differ how differently they're cooked. And you know, some regions, they're like, oh, yeah, that's poisonous. And then you go to another region, they're like, Yeah, we eat that every day, you know? And, yeah, and then how we're cracking the code to, you know, learn, learn to grow a lot of the species that, you know, not too long ago that we that we had no idea how to, and especially with climate change, I feel like it's, it's more important to figure out how to culture as many species as possible, and then not only figure out how to cultivate it to grow, to eat, but also for Biomaterials for bio pesticides for, you know, the million other uses that we that we can use in partner fungi to solve some of our world's biggest problems. And And with that, what would you say? Is one piece of advice you would give an inspiring, aspiring mycologist? 1:06:48 Well, if I were a starting mycologist, I would first try things. And I would be all over the internet. And I would, I would eat all the information I could get. There's all the information you need is on the internet. The question is how to get the right information. There's just so much. And many people say different things. So who to believe that's a difficult, difficult, I'd say if you're really into it, and you want to learn to see if you can learn from someone who knows that I would definitely advise. It's like in the old days you learn a trade, why not learn it? From someone who knows? What are you doing? Just go and train with someone who knows. You want to learn how to grow mushrooms, and just work cheaply with someone who knows, and this person will teach you all he or she has to offer. Just take your time. Don't try to crack it in 12 weeks, it's not going to happen. Take your time. Keep your eyes open, be inquisitive. Ask yourself questions. Why is this happening? Why is this happening? What is that never seen? And if you keep your mind open, you will get there. Just don't rush it and learn from those who know because most knowledge has already been researched. And it's out there. 1:08:33 Incredible. So you obviously have a school at my cilia. But where where can people one sign up for the school to learn more about my cilia? Sacco to your personal research? And yeah, where where can people follow along? 1:08:55 There's plenty of free stuff. So we disperse plenty of free stuff. So if you don't have anything to spend, you just get the free stuff and compile all of that. And then you will have a nice chunk of information. Alright, enough to get you started. If you do have the money, and if you want to get more serious, I would definitely advise you to follow a course because it makes you leap years. It really does. Don't underestimate it. It's not just crooks trying to steal from you. I mean, the mushroom industry is small. It's run by people who are passionate. I haven't seen many crooks in my life really, like we know all the big companies, all of them. And honestly, I haven't seen any groups in there either. I'm not saying there's none. But there's not many. It's traditionally industry, which is founded on people that are enthusiasts asked, interested and who want to learn, and are not trying to become a billionaire in two weeks. So it's okay to learn from these people. That's That's my key message. Like, I understand that people see all sorts of companies conspiracies, but honestly, I'm not a conspiracy guy. And I'm actually I'm not the r&d manager, I'm the owner of mycelium psycho to wear these for 75%. And I'm running as well on a daily basis, I'm not interested in ripping people off, or trying to spread injustice information or be a part of a secret society or whatever. I mean, I'm just trying to get people to do this job properly. I'm just trying to make a living myself, that's all. And if you can do that, by helping people jumping to the years in their knowledge, I mean, I think that's a good, I really believe that's a good thing. So, but it's for the people who want to take it seriously. If you don't want to take it seriously. If you're, if you're happy with being in a hobby, or in a semi professional thing, then just just browse cleverly, and learn from your neighbors. Make a group of friends and trust them. If you don't have any mushrooms, just ask your friends. Do you have anything to share? Because I don't have enough. Next week? They may ask you. I mean, that's how how the best growers here in Europe, at least they work. And it's how the best growers work. They, they have a phone and there's 20 numbers in there from fellow growers and they ring each other there's a problem and they just talk they get together. That is the way you get forward if you're if you're not at the top. And if you want to really take it to a higher level. There's ways there's definitely ways just keep your eyes 1:11:54 incredible. And what what is the website's for both mycelium and psycho two? 1:12:00 Well, for sacral two, it's just cycle two.com. For my Celia, it's myceliated.bb BB for being from Belgium. And the new company. It's called mycelium Academy. And it's my Celia slash academy.org. 1:12:18 Incredible. Any any final shoutouts that you you want to give for people 1:12:26 Bloody hell, I love my seat. Perfect, believe it or not 1:12:32 great, that's amazing. And volcanoes and rocks. All of it, all of it. 1:12:39 I also want to say like, like, Great job, keep doing this. I really, really appreciate what you guys do, too. This is helping us all forward. Good job on you guys. 1:12:51 Likewise, likewise. Yeah, we're, I mean everyone listening to we're, we're all on this together. And we you know, either realistically, or metaphysically we all have our numbers in each other's phones. And yeah, we're all one big mycelial network and so if you have information, share it with people and you know, that's, that's one of the reasons why you know, we started this podcast was to find people that are really good at their niche field, and share it with people so so you can listen for free and get really, really good at a million different things and get an hour to sit with these experts and and dive into to all these different topics. But but it's also up to you if you're learning some really cool things during these episodes, share it you know, talk to some stranger at the grocery store, get them really into mushrooms and you know, get people out into the woods and if they're already out in the woods, get them to look down and look at mushrooms and be invested and and form that symbiotic relationship with with nature. And it doesn't have to just be mushrooms and fungi can be volcanoes and rocks and plants and soil and dirt and bugs literally anything if I think anything would be better than screens and everything else that people are addicted to so including myself. I think everyone including myself could use more walks in the woods with 1:14:35 mushrooms. Yeah, enjoy the doubt. So 1:14:40 with that, thank you everyone for for for tuning in to another episode. And if you want to support the show, we don't have a Patreon or anything that you can donate but we do have a brand mushroom revival and if you want some functional mushroom goodies, you can go to our site mushroom rival.com And we have tinctures, capsules powders, delicious gummies all organic all super potent. So check it out for yourself or family member friend. If you don't want to spend any money we have a giveaway going on link is in the bio. So sign up to win some goodies we pick a winner once a month and sign up if you're feeling lucky and you got a bunch of free ebooks on there and a bunch of blogs from all different topics and yeah, much love and may the spores Be With You have a beautiful day Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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