January began with the bumper news that Irish food and drinks exports surpassed the €9 billion mark for the first time. There was also news of Bord Bia seeking graduates to work aboard with Irish food companies in a year long scholarship programme. From Poland there came an article by Nikodem Sakson on the search for new possibilities for growth in mushroom cropping. There followed more technical articles from the author during the year. More technical information came on the workings of SporeKill, a product specifically designed for the mushroom industry according to author Frank Parker. There was news of a multi-million euro promotional campaign jointly funded by Irish mushroom rowers and the European Union - €2.76 million to be precise. There were also contributions on the themes of Heating costs, on Vari-flame boilers and on low energy lighting by local entrepreneur David Totten of AST Totten Ltd. All the articles were informative and challenging.
In the notes there was also news of AST Totten supplying pre-fab structures for on farm usage as well as all the other wares provided by the company. Monaghan Mushrooms was being mentioned in the national press for the first of many times throughout the year. The horsemeat scandal was just breaking at the beginning of the year and stalker was fulminating about the gathering of The Gathering, and was amused by the little pigs that are porcini.
February began with news of the upcoming All Ireland and UK Mushroom Conference later in the year. There was a photograph of the organising committee to boot. There was another insightful item by David Totten on the merits of wood chip or wood pellets. Again the item was challenging and prompted a response from the Brites people in Fermanagh. There was an imposing photograph of John Conway of Conway Services inspecting the E-Nema laboratory with a new fermenter for the production of nematodes.
There was the article on mushroom compost, the basics and issues by the mushroom consultant from Poland Nikodem Sakson. Once again there was plenty of information and science to chew over. The view from the east is never dull. There was also a piece on the nitrates derogation from Cafre. David Totten also furnished a piece on the storage of heat energy. There was news from Teagasc on the key facts of concerning the control of verticilium. Stephen Mc Kenna of McKenna Mushrooms was featured in the launch of the "Who made my breakfast" booklet, produced by the Hastings Hotel group. An informative piece on the University of Arizona aiming to promote sustainability in food production and help end hunger, concentrated on the producing edible fungi and recycling technologies for impoverished places. As one of the project leaders says - "you can't feed 9 billion people without mushrooms." A nice sentiment indeed.
In notes, the Nutrigain blog on their website got a mention, well worth a visit apparently. News also that mushroom exports to the UK were up 4% in value and volume on the previous year. The old weather adage " as the days lengthen the cold strengthens" certainly rang true in 2013. Orders were rolling in at to the Dillon Design team, which was an encouraging sign. Phase 2 supplementation from Nutrigain got a mentions as did the weather phenomenon of advection. Also the formula for happiness was noted - pretty simple really, just switch off your mobile phone. Sounds like a plan.
March came with news of a change of name for Chronos BTH, it became Premier Tech Chronos. There was a colourful Amycel advert and news of the upcoming Dutch Mushroom Days at the end of May, in Brabanthallen. There was a nice colour photo of Stuart Whitehall and Michael Costello inspecting some crops treated with supplement. On the more technical front there was an article from the Polish consultant on mycelium casing, looking at the new methods brought about by research and development in The Netherlands. Disolite and Omnicide were featured disinfectants in March. The Innova project from Intertrade Ireland got a mention with hook-ups between Monaghan Mushrooms and Mc Don with the project. The ambassador of the mushroom industry award was first heralded in the magazine, and there was news of suntanned mushrooms from Amycel perhaps helping to solve vitamin D deficiency in the UAE. Tow new species of mushroom were discovered on the Iberian Peninsula, and the aforementioned response to the pellet versus chip debate graced the pages.. One tonne Tessie also got her photo in the mag, a look at the Variflame pellet boiler from AST Totten that is. Bob Hope's €50m house also got a look in.
In Notes the fifth taste umami got a mention, you can now buy umami dust. Northway PO was up for an award in the Taste of Ulster competition. Sterling was on the slide, causing exports to UK to be more expensive. Stuart Whitehall and Martin Mc Court were spotted doing some rounds of mushroom units in the locality. Mergers and acquisitions news of PrimeChamp being bought over by Monaghan was in the air. Also the Mushroom Business magazine from Holland was editorialising on the brouhaha surrounding working conditions in mushrooms farms there. The folk from MushroomPro were trialling their robotic pickers on farm in Ireland.
April appeared with front page news of the JFM stand at the upcoming Mushroom Days event. There was more news on the Northway award for supply chain excellence. The demonstration of the Mushroom pro processing unit at GPH Mushrooms Ltd of Derrynoose was featured - some practised operators were sustaining outputs in excess of 100 kilos per hour on the machine. The Takeover of PrimeChamp by Monaghan got further press, the entity being called Monaghan Champignon. Suffolk Mushrooms had won a major supermarket contract and was hoping to expand the work force from 75 to 90 workers. The use of a biomass boiler at the company was also noted. Mushroom Consultant Nikodem provided a piece on the possibilities of mushroom production using new technologies. In the notes there was news of a new orange mould named after the Dutch royals. The scourge of mushroom workers lung MWL also reared its head, and there was news that top Irish sportspeople were lacking in vitamin D - who would have thunk it?
May had news and photos from the SAMFA farm walks in South Africa. The IMMC7 which took place in Beijing in August got a mention. There was more news from the exploitation debacle in The Netherlands - a Dutch mushroom grower was fined €2.4m and a Bulgarian staffing agency was fined €600K. There was good news for Donegal Creameries which was reporting back in the black. Cpoint metamorphosed into DLV Plant who were involved in making Dutch mushroom companies more energy efficient. The chance to visit one of the most advanced mushroom farms in Holland was announced, an opportunity for anyone visiting the Mushroom Days at the end of the month. There e was an item on the healthy mushroom M-plan diet as pursued by Katy Perry , Kelly Osbourne and Roxanne Pallett apparently
In notes the Mushroom Days were upon us - MushComb, JFM, Nutrigain, Harte, McShane Packaging and Mc Don Peat would all be exhibiting and many others were going to be there. There was more nutritional news re mushrooms and vitamin D. Average farm incomes in Ireland got a mention, as did the fact that the mushroom was revered in cave paintings dating back 8,000 years. Funny what gets into the notes.
Jumping on into June photographs from the Mushroom Days event made and appearance. Bicycle winners at the Sylvan Stand and the winners of the Ambassadors of the mushroom industry awards got pride of place. A new packaging film from Sirane was being mentioned for its amazing shelf life enhancing properties. The Sira-flex Resolve film is a natural bio-polymer made from plant material and is fully compostable. It's amazing the new developments within the industry year on year. There was even a piece on UV light usage for keeping strawberries fresh.
In the June notes the Dutch event got pride of place, and the top 1000 mentions for mushroom industry companies also got a mention - Monaghan and Walsh the only two to get a position. Declan McKeever was in winning form, winning awards of a different kind when he took the final of Strictly Come Dancing in his home town of Eglish. Mush TV was at the Den Bosch event, as were Tommy and Teresa Dillon. TheMushroom Council Twitter feed caught Stalker's attention, as did electricity price hikes and mushroom ketchup.
July brought a new tune from a veteran of the mushroom world to support England in their summer Ashes struggle against Australia in the cricket. The New Year would eventual dampen all the excitement around the England summer win in the Ashes test. There was a feature on the May Farm in Cambridgeshire which employs more than 150 staff. There was also a feature on another mushroom enterprise in England - Oakfield Mushrooms in Evesham There was also a call to farmers in Ireland to take part in the farm safety survey - the stats for on farm safety for the year as a whole bear out the need to be ever vigilant in the Ag sector. Donegal Creameries announced a name change to Donegal Investment Group PLC. And Kim Jong-Un featured in a visit to a large mushroom farm in North Korea - we were seeing the upside to the new DPRK leader, before the darker turn of events there later in the year.
The notes of the month included talk of the upcoming the conference in Monaghan, talk of the liveliness at the Dutch event , where MushComb co-hosted a stand with AEM. There was a fulmination on compost prices by one grower, and a quote from the Ulster GAA final that proved that Monaghan is the Ulster hub of mushroom production. Temperatures in July also broke records throughout the country - can we even remember the summer warmth now?
Advancing into August it was reported that Scully Grower Supplies were appointed as the main Irish distributor for the A.S. Totten range of sensors. There was a strange report that 80,000 jobs had been lost in the Iranian mushroom industry - Stalker was taking that one with a pinch of salt. Stalker noted that already the wild mushrooms were out in force due to the hot weather. Bord Bia was reporting that food and drink exports were up by 8.6per cent in the first six months of the year. The M Plan diet also made another appearance..
There e was news of an upcoming US Mushroom Council health summit in September taking place in Washington DC. Sterckx the Belgian composting outfit were expanding into Hungary with the takeover of Champignon-Union Kft. Two science items graced the edition with a report on Ultraviolet flashes that can create Vitamin D enriched mushrooms, from Penn State University. And an article on the problems with additives by Polish Consultant Sakson. A report on the US Mushroom Institute focussing on food safety indicatives in the country also appeared.
September started with a reminder to call in at the JFM stand at the October conference in Monaghan. An item on Heat recovery systems by David Totten as usual included some interesting facts and figures and conclusions. There was news of a Blotch workshop at Emyvale, and also a full agenda for the upcoming conference. Once again there was an opportunity to go down under with an experienced mushroom grower required by SA Mushrooms in Australia. News of Ireland's very own mushroom festival in Co Leitrim made it onto the pages - the festival coinciding with the UK fungus day 2013. The Spanish industry also made an appearance with an item on Neofungi. An interesting item on mushrooms being used in disaster relief also caught the eye.
Noteworthy items included successful grant submission news from the NDP Grant scheme in the South. Teagasc had some other news on the phosphorus content of SMC. Annaghmore Mushrooms were getting ready for their big day, with the official opening of the new packhouse to happen the day after the Monaghan conference.
October inevitably brought news and views from the Hillgrove conference. Optimism from Minister Hayes at the conference was encouraging for all in attendance, although Stalker heard the odd rumblings of discontent from those who attended the Industry session later in the day - worried perhaps about the shape of things to come. The conference was well covered in print and photograph and it was noted that there was quite a media presence at the event. The Annaghmore Mushrooms packhouse opening the following day was also featured. Stalker noted that the food at the event was rather tasty. The biomass event at the beginning of October conducted by Cathal Ellis was also mentioned. The new machine available from JFM the Champion Hercules was also mentioned, it had arrived in Ireland at the farm of James Quinn in Co. Tipp. Teagasc received a good fillip from a Spanish based research ratings body - nice from whatever quarter it comes from. A £2.4 million promotional campaign by The Mushroom Bureau in the UK was to be run by ad agency Kindred.
An item on the control of steaming without temperature valves related to a multi-speed pellet steam boiler. And Monaghan Mushrooms welcomed the Canadian Agriculture Minster to the company's HQ in Ireland, a good day for transatlantic relations.
Nudging into November disinfectionwas the subject of the month, with Frank Parker and Stuart Whitehall penning an article on the issue. Also featuring in the issue was an article on the uses of Disolite and Omnicide-M - effective disinfection agents against trichoderma. Monaghan Champignon achieved Fair Produce accreditation in The Netherlands. There was news of the On-Farm Renewable Energy event which had been organised by Cafre at the end of October and of a potential urban roof top mushroom venture in Dublin. Premier Tech Chronos were also involved in some work at the Merrrywell Industrial Estate in Dublin, upgrading a control system for weights and measures at Valeo foods. The month also saw the USDA announce its Mushroom Council appointees in the US. The notes carried some more news and photos from the mushroom conference, with George Clooney even making a look in. There was a robust defence of Vitamin D supplementation from a TCD professor, news of gold finds in Donegal and a recall for some mushroom face cream. Stalker also noted that the only foodstuff in the classic Irish fry not to have its origins questioned was the fresh mushroom! Nice one. Gold mushroom earrings were mooted also as the pressie for the mushroom person in your life, and mushroom selfies got a mention. Stalker notes that felfies are now the name for farming selfies.
And dawdling into December there were a host of colourful mushroom conference photographs gracing the middle pages. There was a weird science item on mushrooms creating their own wind in order to puff their spores to more amenable places. The giant mushroom drop happening on New Year's eve in Kennett Square also got a mention. Iran was ranked 7th in mushroom output amongst 192 countries. In an article on the Renewable Heat Incentive financial support mechanism launched by DETI was examined by Cathal Ellis. The aims and methods of Mush TV were examined in the main science article from Teagasc. Also the sad passing of industry veteran Brendan Donnelly in November was marked in the notes for December. There were season's greetings also , and a piece on the remarkable properties of beta glucans, a compound found in mushrooms.
So the year went in as quickly as any other - with plenty of news and views, conferences and events. Who knows what 2014 will bring for the mushroom industry both locally and internationally.