Introduction to Organic Mushroom Farming
Mushroom farming in India is one of the most profitable agribusinesses that can be started with minimum investment and space. Mushroom farming in India is growing gradually as an alternative source of income.
A Step by Step Guide to Organic Mushroom Farming
Mushrooms have been valued all over the world as both food and medicine for thousands of years. They are a rich source of nutrition with less fat and that also consists predominantly of unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid. Hence mushroom is considered as the best food for maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
Types of Mushrooms in India
At present 3 types of mushrooms are being cultivated in India. These are white mushroom, paddy-straw mushroom, and oyster mushroom. Out of these three types, the white mushroom is the most popular and economically sound to grow and is extensively cultivated throughout the world. Though, due to its low-temperature requirement, its cultivation is restricted to the cool climatic areas.
Button or White mushroom, oyster mushroom, and straw mushroom are the three major types of mushrooms in India used for cultivation. Paddy straw mushrooms can grow in temperatures ranging between 35⁰ and 40⁰C. Button mushrooms grow during winter. Oyster mushrooms are grown in the northern plains. All these three mushrooms of commercial importance are grown by different techniques. They are grown on special beds called compost beds. Learn how to cultivate mushrooms of each type.
Organic Management Plan in Organic Mushroom Farming
During the registration of the farm or organic mushroom production unit with the Accredited Certification Body (ACB), the operator has to submit an organic management plan, which will be verified by the ACB during the inspection. The organic management plan shall be updated annually.
Management of production site in Organic Mushroom Farming
Organic and non-organic production units must be in separate facilities separated by space and time and have separate ventilation systems, boxes, trays, tools, the substrate holding racks, etc including facilities for compost production.
The operator shall maintain the entire production site including housing facilities in a way that prevents contact with prohibited substances with a production site, tools, and boxes/ trays organically produced mushrooms, and every step throughout the entire growing cycle including harvesting and post-harvesting process. Any wood or plant material used for the construction of the mushroom house, racks, substrate holding containers, boxes, trays, etc shall be free from prohibited substance treatment.
Natural Compost for Organic Mushroom Farming
Horse dung, poultry manure, wheat straw and gypsum are the ingredients. Wheat straw must be chopped finely. Horse dung must not be mixed with that of other animals. Also, it must be preferably freshly collected and not exposed to rain. Once the ingredients are mixed, they are uniformly spread on the composting yard. Water is sprinkled on the spread surface to wet the straws sufficiently. It is heaped and turned like that for synthetic manure. Owing to fermentation, the temperature of the heap increases and it gives an odour due to ammonia escaping. This is an indication that the compost has opened. The heap is turned every 3 days and sprinkled with water. During the 3rd and 4th turning, 25 Kg gypsum to per ton of compost is added. 10mL malathion to 5L water is sprayed into the heap during the final turning.
Process of Organic Mushroom Farming
For effective mushroom production, each grower must produce as economically and efficiently as possible the highest quality of mushrooms. This can be accomplished among other requirements, by choosing the best strains which must be high yielding, visually attractive, having desirable flavour, and resistance to adverse climate and pests and diseases. Now, there are many strains of white, brown, and cream varieties in cultivation. The brown variety is the usual mushroom and considered to be the most vigorous form. It tolerates and adverse conditions better than the white variety.
The propagating material used by the mushroom growers for planting beds is known as spawn. The spawn is equal to the vegetative seed of the higher plant. Quality of spawn is basic for the effective mushroom cultivation. Compost for mushroom has a significant role in production; as it is the basis for growth. Controlled temperature, humidity (85 to 95%), ventilation is essential for mushroom cultivation. Sterilization is another important factor in cultivation hence steaming at 37°C (pasteurization) is more acceptable. Mushroom growing is an occupation requiring patience, perseverance, intelligent observation, and a skill that can be developed only through expert training and intelligent experience.
The first step for growing mushrooms is composting which is done in the open. Compost yard for button mushroom cultivation is prepared on raised, clean platforms made of concrete. They must be raised so that the run-off water does not get accumulated at the heap. Although the composting is done in the open, they must be covered to protect from rain. Organic Mushroom production is fully different from growing green plants. Mushrooms do not contain chlorophyll and therefore based on other plant material for their food.
Compost Filling in Trays
The compost when ready for spawning and filling has a dark brown colour and no trace of ammonia. There is no unpleasant odour but it smells like fresh hay. The pH is neutral or near neutral. The compost should not be too wet or too dry at the time of filling in the trays, which can be determined by the palm test. For this purpose, a small quantity of compost is taken into the hand and pressed lightly, if a few drops of water ooze out of the fingers then it is of the right consistency.
If relatively dry then the water must be made up by sprinkling. If too wet, the excess water should be allowed to evaporate. The prepared compost is now filled in trays, which may be of any convenient size but depth should be 15 to 18 cm. The standard size of the tray should be 100 cm x 50 cm x 15 cm. The trays must be made of softwood and provided with the pegs at the four corners so that they can be stacked one over the other leaving sufficient space between the two trays for various operations. The trays are filled with the compost, lightly compressed and the surface levelled.
Buy Organic Mushroom Spawn
Mushroom spawn is particularly harvested and grown fungal tissue that can be used to grow mushrooms. For the log method, select spawn in the plug form, which is spawn contained inside short wooden dowels. You can buy mushroom spawn at online or in many garden stores.
The seeds are a mix of the compost. Before seeding, wash the utensils used in seeding and seeding in a 2% formalin solution and wash the hands of the person working in the seedling with soap so that any infection can be avoided. After this, add seed to 0.5 to 0.75%, that is, 100 kg G 500 to 750 grams of seeds are sufficient for ready compost.
The importance of casing soil would be to keep the moisture content and exchange of pollutants inside the top layer of the compost which assists in the correct development of the mycelium. The pH of this casing soil should be 7.5 to 7.8 and have to be free of any disease.
The casing soil is loaded on the cemented ground and can be treated with a 4% formalin solution. Through rotation of the ground is completed and it’s covered with polythene sheet for another 3-4 days. Pasteurization of shell soil at 65°C for 6 to 8 hours is shown to be a lot more successful.
3 to 4 cm thick coating of casing soil has been spread thickly on the compost once the surface was coated with white mycelium of this fungus. Formalin solution (0.5%) is subsequently being sprayed. Appropriate ventilation ought to be organized together with water being sprayed a couple of times every day.
Mushrooms only grow in the wild in autumn. Though, they can be cultivated year-round by recreating autumn conditions. So, the temperature in the cell is gradually lowered from 23 to 17°C over 4 days. The mushroom grower begins to lower the temperature once he sees that the mycelium has grown to its full extent. The temperature shock is a sign for the mycelium to start sprouting the mushrooms. The same thing happens in nature. Mycelium grows well in after an October storm and mild autumn weather, the mushrooms will start appearing. The mycelium begins to form little buds, which will develop into mushrooms. Those little white buds are called pins. In this phase, air humidity and temperature can influence growth. Low air temperature and low humidity produce more buds, which yield smaller mushrooms. Higher air temperature and humidity produce fewer but larger mushrooms.
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Typical Pests in Organic Mushroom Farming
Cecid Fly – Under ideal conditions, this fly will multiply rapidly. Even worse, the adult Cecid fly is infrequently seen since the larvae handle reproduction. As legless maggots, the larvae are white or orange and spread throughout a mushroom farm by sticking to tools and equipment. They feed on the mycelium, stipe, and gills of mature mushrooms.
Phorid Fly-In an early stage, they only eat selectively and are usually tolerable. However, once they transform into a fly, they are capable of transmitting fungal and bacterial diseases through the crop. Adults have a hunchbacked appearance and are stocky looking. These flies are highly active even while “on land” often hopping erratically.
Sciarid Fly – The most pervasive pest for several growers, sciarid fly larvae are voracious eaters that devour mycelium and compost. After about 15 days of feeding, they enter a pupae stage by spinning a web around themselves. Adults are most evident around light sources and have a black body, long antennae, and grey wings. Infestations of sciarid flies, which also are called fungus gnats, mushroom flies, or manure flies, cause mushrooms to become brown and leathery.
Nematodes – Normally considered a beneficial soil organism, several nematodes actively devour the fungi present in mushroom farms. These microscopic creatures are usually detected by the degeneration of mushroom mycelium. The presence of nematodes usually indicates problems in sanitation and pasteurization processes.
Symptoms – Webbed, cottony mycelial growth on the surface of casing and mushrooms; mycelium is white but maybe grey or pink; infected mushrooms will develop a soft, watery rot
Management – Control of the disease is achieved through good sanitation practices and cultural control methods; casing must be kept clean and sanitized; all tools and equipment should be cleaned; keep beds free of any mushroom debris.
Symptoms – A dense layer of mycelium is present on the casing surface which is initially white but changes to green colour; developing mushrooms in or near the mycelium are brown and may be cracked or distorted
Management – Prevention of this disease is best achieved by good sanitation practices; ensure the compost is properly pasteurized before use and sterilize any supplements
Symptoms – Small spotting on mushrooms; mushrooms deformed; the surface of mushroom grey and fuzzy; severe infection can cause a deformation known as “dry bubble” which causes the sporocarp to appear as large puffball like masses; bubbles will become covered with a grey and fuzzy growth
Management – Bubbles should not be disturbed by touching and destroyed using salt; fungicides are available for the treatment of Verticullium diseases of mushrooms but many have toxic effects on the mushrooms as they are themselves a fungus
Proper sanitation methods in mushroom farming require pasteurization of the soil medium before a fresh crop can be grown. Pasteurizing eliminates many of the insects, pest fungi, nematodes, and any other pests that may be living inside the compost. To accurately pasteurize compost for mushroom farming, its temperature is raised to 60°C for at least 4 hours. Higher temperature levels will deactivate or kill good microbes needed for later growth processes.
Compost pasteurization methods vary on the type of compost used. Straw, for example, is heated in water. While pasteurization protects the early growth of mushrooms, it won’t stop invaders from outside sources, the exterior environment, and so on. It’s through these channels that pests continue to recur in a growing environment.
Cost of Organic Mushroom
The cost of Organic Mushroom is approximately Rs 200/ Kg
When and How to Harvest Mushroom
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Harvest the mushrooms at the soil level by carefully twisting them or by cutting them at the soil level by using a sharp knife. Pulling can damage other surrounding mushrooms and harvest flushes of mushrooms daily. The beds will continue to produce for up to about 6 months.
After this, the temperature is kept steady at 18°C. Mushrooms grow best at this temperature; they’ will grow 3 cm in a week, which is the normal size for harvesting. Mushrooms that are destined for selling fresh are still harvested by hand; mushrooms destined for preserving are being picked and sorted mechanically. Though hand-picking is a lot of work, it offers the best guarantee that the mushrooms will be removed from the beds undamaged. On average, a picker can harvest mushrooms between 18 and 30 kilos of mushrooms per hour. These are picked from the beds with a rotating motion and sorted by the pickers based on quality, size, and weight. Nine days after the first flush, the 2nd flush will be harvested. The 2nd flush often consists of larger, but fewer mushrooms than the first flush.
After the 2nd flush of mushrooms has been picked, the cells need to be cleaned. First, the cell is pasteurized with steam to kill any remaining fungus to ensure that there is no transfer from cycle to cycle. During steam-cleaning, the temperature in the cells reaches 70°C for 8 hours. After steam-pasteurization, the compost is removed from the beds. The empty cell is thoroughly cleaned one more time and then it is ready to be filled again.
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