Mushroom farming in India

mushroom farming

Mushrooms have always fascinated humans since prehistoric times. People found it interesting, a beautiful young bud beautifying this earth by its presence. Mushrooms are fleshy and particularly rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins. Mushrooms found in nature are either poisonous or edible. Till now total mushroom species identified are 1600, out of which nearly 100 are used as food and 33 types are under commercial cultivation. In India, the mushrooms under cultivation are Agaricus bisporus (White button), Pleurotus (Oyster), and Volvariella spp. (paddy straw). All things considered, mushroom farming is an art. In this article, we aim to help you understand the basics of mushroom cultivation.

Economic importance of mushrooms 

Mushrooms are great agro waste decomposers, agro waste like cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignin, and also Organic waste materials are easily decomposed by mushrooms. Mushrooms are also considered rich in nutrients so they form a great constitute of a purely vegetarian diet with good taste and aroma. It is an alternative source of protein and can be used by poor people in developing countries.

Carbohydrates-55%

Proteins -32%

Fat – 2%

Minerals –

  1. Macroelements – P, K, Cu, Fe
  2. Microelements – Na, Ca, and Mg

Vitamins – thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin, pantothenic acid (B complex), biotin, folic acid, vitamin C, D, A, and K (these are retained even after cooking).

Mushroom proteins particularly contain all the nine essential amino acids needed for human growth. It is easily digestible (71 -90%) and 200 gm of mushroom protein = 100 gm of nonvegetarian protein (meat).

Mushroom farming/cultivation

In India, the mushrooms are cultivated on large scale in Punjab, Haryana (Sonepat), Himachal Pradesh, Solan, Himachal University College of Agriculture, South India, etc. Commercial cultivation in India have begun in 1971, the annual production of which was 100 tons, and now in 2013, it is more than 60,000 tons.

Mushroom Cultivation under controlled conditions requires some essential apparatus to facilitate the composting and cropping as following:

  • Mushroom house
  • Composting yard
  • Ingredients and raw material for natural and synthetic compost
  • Spawning
  • Casing
  • Equipment, Accessories, and pesticides
  • Fruiting/crop
  • Harvesting
  • Yield
  • Washing
  • Packing
  • Storage

Therefore, each and every stage of mushroom farming has its own role. Let’s learn the details of each.

A must-read- Mushroom Leather – My Biology Dictionary

Mushroom house

To begin with, mushroom houses are areas equipped with apparatus for mushroom farming. A good mushroom house should be equipped with the following apparatus:

  • It should be in an area free from air pollution specifically.
  • Ventilation should be proper and walls should be insulated.
  • The light arrangement of 1500-2500 lux intensity.
  • The exhaust fan, cooler, and air- conditioner.
  • It should have a pucca floor of either cement or bricks.
Oyster mushroom house

Image source- Adhitya et al (www.researchgate.net)

Composting yard

An area where the raw materials like chemicals, agro waste, etc are mixed and fermented is known as composting  yard

  • It has to be at the corner of the mushroom farm and away from the mushroom house.
  • A pucca floor of cement or brick.
  • A tin shed over the composting yard to avoid rainy water.
  • The floor with a slope with the provision of drainage in a pit to reuse that water for wetting of the compost.

Natural and synthetic compost ingredients and raw materials

Natural compost:

The natural compost is particularly prepared by fresh horse dung collected from stables mixed with1/3 weight of wheat or barley straw, 100-110kg chicken manure, and 3kg urea per tonne and made into a heap of 1 meter high. This mixture must be kept under the shed and protected from rain. The horse dung should not contain the admixture of dung from other animals. The heap after 3-4 days begins to steam due to fermentation, rise in temperature, and the production of ammonia. The heap is opened and this process is repeated 4 or 5 times at 5 or 6 days intervals. Gypsum 25kg/ton of horse dung is added at the 2nd and 3rd turning and 40ml nemagon is sprayed at the final turning into the manure. Finally, now the compost is ready to use in mushroom cultivation.

Synthetic compost:

This compost is particularly prepared by either the long method (traditional) or by the short method (pasteurized). Though, the raw materials used for composting (formulae) have been given by different organizations, institutions, and workers and can be selected for making compost. Here two formulae are given to be used in synthetic compost:

Formula – 1

Material Quantity

Chopped wheat straw/ paddy straw 250 kg (10 – 15 cm SIZE)

Wheat bran 25 – 30 kg

Ammonium sulphate /CAN(calcium ammonium nitrate) 4 kg

Urea 3 kg

Gypsum 20 kg

Malathion 15 – 20 ml

Formula-2

Rice straw 1000 kg

Poultry manure 150 kg

Wheat bran 42 kg

Gypsum 30 kg

(If paddy straw is used add 6 kg of cottonseed meal. Straw used in compost should be fresh

or one year old only, and not to be exposed to weathering).

Thus, everything must be measured before the components are incorporated.

compost for mushroom farming

Image source- agritech.tnau.ac.in

Compost preparation

Compost is prepared by two methods i.e. Long method and the Short method.

Long method:

Following are the steps of long method-

  1.  Firstly, wheat straw is spread in a thick layer of 8-10” thickness over the floor of composting yard.
  2. Secondly, sprinkle water on the straw for wetting 2-3 times a day for two days.
  3. Thirdly, urea, CAN, and wheat bran are thoroughly mixed separately and covered with a damp gunny bag for 14-16 hours.
  4. Nextly, these ingredients are now mixed with a pre-wetted straw on the floor and are heaped into a pile with a stack mold.
  5. Further, the entire pile is opened and spread over the composting yard on the 3rd or 4th day for 45-60 minutes and this process is called turning which is repeated every 3rd day. At each turning water is sprinkled to make up for the loss of water due to evaporation. At the 3rd turning 1⁄2 of gypsum, the amount is added and the remaining gypsum is added on the 4th turning. At the 5th turning insecticide nemagon is added and thorough mixing of straw is done, later open the pile and leave it for 3 days till the ammonia smell is lost.
  6. Lastly, the compost is ready to use in 18-21 days, in which the ligno-protein complex is formed that favours the growth of white button mushroom, and also narrows down the carbon /nitrogen ratio with the addition of nitrogen sources.

The Short or Pasteurization Method:- the compost is formed in two stages:

Stage 1:

To begin with, the wheat straw is moistened, mixing of ingredients, making a heap and turning is given in 2 days, gypsum is added after 3rd turning, and after 4th turning the compost is filled in pasteurization tank.

Stage 2:

Nextly, the temperature of 48-50°C is maintained in the pasteurization tank for 2-3 days. Steam is passed to raise the temperature to 58-60°C for 6 hours. Fresh air is allowed through ventilation till the temperature of the compost cools down to 25-28°C, and the compost is ready in 19-20 days.

Mushroom seed is called spawn, which is raised from healthy strains, thoroughly tested, and recommended for a particular area or zone. It is the creamish white thread-like mycelium of the mushroom growing on the medium (wheat or other cereal grain) that provides it with nutrition for its growth. Spawn that is used as a seed must be free from contaminants (micro-organisms), fresh or only one-month-old, and can be stored at 5C The spawn of 160-170 gm is used in one square meter area of the compost of 15-16 cm thickness. Moreover, the quantity of spawn used at 22-26°C on dry straw is 1-1.5% and 0.50 –0.75% on wet compost. In hills or during winters in plains spawn is required in more quantity i.e. 2.5-3.0% of the dry weight of the straw.

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Spawning- the most important step of mushroom farming

Sowing the beds with the mycelium (spawn) is called spawning. Spawn is available at a nominal cost from the Mushroom lab. The grain spawn is scattered all over the surface of the compost in trays or racks and it is covered with a 2 cm thin layer of compost.  However, two half-litre spawn bottles are sufficient for 5 trays.

mushroom farming

Image source- http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/

Casing

The casing is done after the completion of the spawn run and removal of newspaper from trays or racks and opening of the mouth of polybags with a 4-5 cm thick layer of casing soil. After casing water is sprayed over casing soil and the temperature and relative humidity are maintained at 24-25`c, and RH 80-85% for 4-5 days. Once the mycelium spreads in the casing soil, the temperature is lowered to 14-18`c and RH 80-85% till the rest of the fruiting period.

Casing material is soil that is, powdered, thoroughly sieved, porous with neutral pH, which allows free exchange of air, also can retain water and is used to cover the compost after spawn run. It is a process of covering the spawn run compost with casing soil to initiate fruiting (due to shock treatment), support the fruiting body, and check the loss of moisture from mushroom compost.

casing

Image source- www.mushroomcouncil.org

Equipment, accessories, and pesticides

Following are the equipments used in a mushroom house

  • Mushroom trays,
  • foot sprayers,
  • sharp knife,
  • gunny bags,
  • water storage drums,
  • plastic/ alkathene sheet,
  • water pipe and insecticides etc…

Fruiting/crop

After 15-20 days of the casing, the induction of fruiting bodies is seen on the casing soil. At this stage, a large amount of fresh air is required and the temperature is also maintained between 14-18° C. Subsequently, within 4-5 days fruiting bodies attain the shape of a mushroom.

Harvesting

The harvesting begins when the cape size is 3-4 cm in diameter. Picking is done by holding the cap with forefingers slightly pressed against the soil and rotating it anticlockwise. The soil particles and mycelial threads clinging to the base of the stipe are removed with a knife. Another key point is that harvesting is also done with a knife by cutting the stipe at the soil level.

Image source- www.mushroomcouncil.org

Yield

The yield in the bag cultivation method is 10-15 kg/100 kg of compost and 16-20 kg /100 kg of pasteurized compost in 6-8 weeks. However, the yield may be 10-12 kg/meter if compost is good, spawn of good quality and favorable temperature, and R.H. during the growing period is maintained in the mushroom house. Partial or complete failure may also happen due to negligence.

Washing

Another step which is significantly important during mushroom farming is washing. The harvested crop of mushrooms is immediately dipped in cold water (50°C). The dipped mushrooms are taken out from cold water and washed in running water. Treated mushrooms are dried in shade over muslin cloth.

Packing

Packaging is done in 200gm or 500 gm polythene bags or plastic containers. For the local market, the packaging is done in non-perforated bags and for storage, 0.5 % perforation is done. With this, the process of mushroom farming comes to a wrap followed by storage.

Storage

The storage life or shelf life of button mushrooms is very less i.e. one day at ambient temperature and they can be stored at 5°C for 3-4 days only. To conclude, during peak season the bumper crop is either exported immediately or is preserved by canning.

To summarize, with the growing importance of mushroom leather, we must focus on how to effectively grow mushrooms. Mushroom cultivation also serves as a great opportunity to solve the issue of unemployment.

Thanks for reading

Team MBD

Check out more here- MUSHROOM FARMING / MUSHROOM CULTIVATION in India | Composting, Spawning, Casing, Pinning, Harvesting – YouTube

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