mushroom farming

Mushroom Farming – A boon to our farmers

Mushroom farming is one of the most profitable agro-business in this present day. You can start this business even with low investment and in less amount of space. Mushroom is considered one of the healthiest vegetables which are low in carb, fat, and calories. Agaricus bisporus is the scientific name of mushroom. They contain a good amount of fiber and are rich in potassium, magnesium, zinc, and folate. The trend of mushroom farming is gradually increasing as a source of alternative income among Indian farmers. The largest producers of mushroom worldwide (not in the top order) are the U.S, Netherlands, Italy, Japan, China, France, Spain.

In India, Uttar Pradesh is the largest producer of mushrooms followed by Tripura and Kerala. In our state too mushroom farming can be one of the best farming methods we can adopt to generate another source of income.

In this article, you’ll come to know the types of eatable mushroom and how they are grown.

What are the types of mushrooms to start Mushroom Farming?

Have you ever imagined that mushrooms are made of 90 percent water? Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of a fungus and are cultivated and grown in wild. It has high protein content and is considered as ‘meat’ of the vegetable world. Mainly there are three types of mushrooms that are grown or cultivated widely in India. Button mushroom, Oyster mushroom, and Straw mushroom suits best to be cultivated in our country.

Oyster Mushroom

mushroom farming
Oyster Mushroom

The botanical name of the oyster mushroom is Pleurotus ostreatus. Oyster mushroom is grown in the northern plain where the climate is hot and humid. The name oyster is derived from its fan-like structure, a dusty color that resembles the oyster. You can make varieties of dishes like a fried oyster mushroom, oyster mushroom pasta, and many more. In India, it is widely cultivated in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, Odisha, etc. You can cultivate this type of mushroom at moderate temperature ranging from 20 to 300 C and humidity 55-70% for a period of 6 to 8 months in a year.

Button Mushroom

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The botanical name of the Button mushroom is Agaricus bisporus. This type of mushroom is one of the famous and commonly cultivated varieties of mushrooms. 90% of the mushroom consumed worldwide is the button mushroom. You will find these mushrooms in restaurants, pizzas, and many more food items. The cultivation of this type of mushroom can easily be started anywhere providing the basic requirement. Button mushroom generally cultivated during the winter season. However, with the introduction of new technology, our farmers also started cultivating this crop in other seasons too.

Straw Mushrooms

The botanical name of straw mushroom is the Volvariella volvacea. It has a distinct flavor, aroma, pleasant taste, and high protein content. Due to its high yielding and shorter time of cropping duration straw mushroom is considered as a boon to our farmers. The best optimal temperature to grow Straw mushroom ranges from 30 to 35 °C. You can easily grow straw mushrooms well both outdoor and indoor conditions. However, for stable and high production indoor cultivation is preferred.

Steps required to start Mushroom Farming

If you can spare 12 hours a week then you can easily start mushroom farming in just 6 simple steps. For a novice, the farming of Oyster Mushroom is considered best.

Prepare your spawn and substrate

The first step in oyster mushroom farming is to get the spawn and prepare the substrate. Basically, spawning is the process of sowing the mushroom mycelium into the beds. You can prepare your own spawn using a sterile culture. However, for a startup, it is always best to buy from a reliable source. You can easily get your spawn from a certified laboratory at a nominal price. Now, time to get your substrate. You can buy easily get the substrate requires for your mushroom farming from the market. In general, paddy or wheat straw and wood chips are used as the substrate for growing mushrooms.

Substrate Preparation

The second step for mushroom farming is to prepare the substrate. In order to get good mushrooms, you need to get or prepare the best substrate for the mushrooms. Cut the straw into smaller pieces and let them wet by pouring water into it. Now, heat the straw in the boiling water for about 90 minutes and remove it. Spread the straw in a clean tray and let it cool for some time.

Packing the plastic bags

Let’s start packing the plastic bags with the straw and spawn. Now put the straw inside the bag for about two or three inches and then lightly sprinkle the spawn on top. Just repeat the step until you’ve almost filled the bag. Then, close the bag and poke holes in the bag.

Incubation time

The incubation period is the most critical time for mushroom farming. So, utmost care is to be taken during this stage. Keep the growing area at around 26°C. A shelving unit will be required to keep the plastic bags properly. Protect the incubation room from entering the natural light. Cover all the windows and cracks to prevent entering light. You can use the darkroom red light when you need to check the bags. After some days you’ll start noticing tiny pinhead mushrooms near the holes in your bag. Now, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Fruiting

To start fruiting of your mushrooms, you need to prepare a fruiting room maintaining a high level of humidity. You have to maintain a temperature slightly lower than the incubation period between 22 °C – 27°C. Contrary to the incubation room you’ll need a lot of natural light for at least 12 hours a day. Keep the bags in a cooler place for at least a day before you move them back to the fruiting room. This will force your mycelium to start fruiting inside the hot and humid room faster. Now, cut away the bag to allow mushrooms to start growing.

Harvesting Time

The last and the final step is the harvesting of your mushrooms. Before the mushrooms caps are uncurled, you’ve to harvest the mushrooms. When you find this perfect moment, just start harvesting your mushrooms by twisting the stem off as near to the growing block as you are able to.

Now, you’ve harvested your mushrooms, and don’t forget to cook a mushroom dish as you like before you transport it for selling to the market.

Final Words on Mushroom Farming

If you’re reading this line, I’m assuming that you have got an interest in this mushroom farming. Anyone can start this farming with a little investment initially and can be started in a little space. However, before you start this business it is advised to undergo some basic class on mushroom farming to get success. This article is intended only for educational purposes and should not take it as an authority. It is easier said than done. You may start small but never stop pursuing your dream.

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