In 2012, which was a good harvest year, bilberry bypassed lingonberry as financially the most important wild berry in Finland. EUR 12.2 of picking income was accumulated from bilberries. Bilberry harvests vary a lot from one year to another, but they can also be affected by forest management activities.

Photo: Erkki Oksanen/Luke
Photo: Erkki Oksanen/Luke

In addition to weather factors, the occurrence and number of mushrooms are regulated by the ratio of wood species in the forest, the age and density of the forest, and the thickness, humidity and composition of the humus and forest litter layer. The most abundant species of mushrooms in pine-dominated boreal forests are the velvet bolete, rufous milkcap, Russula paludosa, Russula decolorans and foxy bolete. In spruce-dominated forests, abundant mushroom species include the Lactarius trivialis and Russula vinosa, and in birch-dominated mixed forests, the orange birch bolete.

Luke studies improving harvests in natural conditions

Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is studying the effects of different forest management alternatives on mushroom and wild berry harvests. Furthermore, how to ensure the pollination of bilberries with the help of honey bees is being investigated. Another field of study concerns how to ensure the crop yield of mushrooms growing in the nature. The aim is to achieve this by carrying out various environmental management activities at the sites where the mushrooms naturally grow.

The Natural Resources Institute Finland has studied the impact of the joint production of bilberries and wood on the handling of the stand. According to the study, bilberry income from pine stands and mixed forest exceed the income from felling, when the interest rate is three per cent and the price of bilberries per kilogramme is four euros. When the interest rate is four per cent, the bilberry income is higher with a price per kilogramme of just two euros.

 

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