Geologist Sandra Tronco decided to make a career change and started a shiitake (Lentinula edodes) production business in the Asturian town of Grado. It all started when she became a mother and stopped working. At the time, she attended one of the mycological courses organized by the municipality's town hall. “At that time I wanted to start doing something but I didn't know what and I learned about shiitake cultivation. Then, little by little, we designed the project, because I knew that I wanted to manage my time,” she stated.
Thus, the search for land began. She needed trees and a nearby source of water and, according to her, this was undoubtedly one of the most difficult parts of the process. Finally, she found almost 2,000 square meters of Asturian forest, where she built the facilities to grow shiitake. "Asturias is an ideal territory to produce shiitake because its climatic conditions are similar in humidity and temperature to those of Japan," she highlighted.
These mushrooms of Asian origin grow on pieces of oak and chestnut wood. Their development begins around March, when the mycelia of the fungus are inoculated in holes made in the wood, usually from the remains of pruning and cleaning of mountains. The logs are placed in piles where they remain for a year. After that, when they show a white color - a sign that the fungus has colonized the wood - they are placed in a pool of water that simulates a storm of heavy downpour in the natural environment. Finally, they are transferred to a sealed room where they are deposited for the mushrooms to sprout. “It depends on the temperature, but a batch of 50 logs can yield 5 to 6 kilos of shiitake. However, that varies a lot because it is a natural process that cannot be controlled like we control industrial processes. Humidity is very important in cultivation; it is what determines the production,” she stated.
At the moment, she sells the mushrooms she produces at a business and at a restaurant in Grado. However, she is already looking for new customers, as she'll double her production with some shiitake mushrooms that she inoculated on the logs last March.