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My EMs are growing fungi!

Posted by David Maxwell 
My EMs are growing fungi!
May 21, 2014 09:31PM
Tell me whether I need to do anything more than run them through a filter, (so they don't block the sprayer). I brewed up a batch of EMs (from mother culture, with blackstrap mollases for food) - 3 days warm, followed by a week at room temperature. When I went to spray my first spray (at green tip) I found there was a mat of fungus on the surface of the jug of EMs. They were easily filtered off. Is this "normal"? Does it matter? (My suspicion is that it is actually a good thing - I am spraying lots of "good" fungi, which will displace any bad ones which try to get a foothold. Or am I deceiving myself?)

Broomholm Orchard
Zone 5b in Nova Scotia
Re: My EMs are growing fungi!
May 22, 2014 07:33AM
My guess would be an introduced species into the process, David. Whether this impacts the culture of photosynthetic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, and yeasts in em is less of a problem (I'm guessing) if your brew is used sooner rather than later. I've seen a "layer of flowers" develop - think cider carboy once exposed to air - in the last of a barrel batch that I held over for fall application. This year I rinsed that same barrel with hydrogen peroxide before starting the spring batch. All looks good at this point, 30 days in, half of this first brew already applied as of the "pink spray" made yesterday morning.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire
Re: My EMs are growing fungi!
May 22, 2014 09:55AM
I think your description of my fungal contamination as a "mat" is absolutely accurate, like the "flor" in sherries. And I don't think it is necessarily harmful. The only difference between my flor and Michael's is that mine developed with a couple of weeks, not after being held over from last year.

Broomholm Orchard
Zone 5b in Nova Scotia
Re: My EMs are growing fungi!
May 22, 2014 12:34PM
Just to be clear ... I did not overwinter activated effective microbes but rather this is a June brew with gallons enough for the fall holistic application in late October. The holding time involved was 120-150 days, and it was probably early fall when I noticed "le flor" on top of the remaining brew in the barrel. The pH was steady in the low 3s and thus the effective microbe culture itself can be considered stable/dormant. I'm not surprised other critters got in and established a niche, this with access to air (floating on top). We're not likely to know whether this has additional merit in establishing competitive colonization but on the other hand it's not the end of effective biological reinforcement either.

I know some folks have asked if an airlock is essential in brewing effective microbes. I'm entirely satisfied with "burping the barrel" on occasion (to let out gases) but otherwise not worrying about microbe wars. The hydrogen peroxide rinse is the limit of what I do as regards clearing the barrel palate for a new brew. The facultative nature of the organisms in em -- this ability to reproduce in an anaerobic environment yet also thrive once exposed to air on the tree surface -- gives an edge to the selected species, I suspect.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire
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