agaricusMushrooms are group of organisms called fungi. They are the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting bodies of fungi typically produced above ground on soil or on their food sources. They lack the usual green matter present in plants and grow on dead and decaying organic materials. The mushroom fruiting body may be umbrella like or of various other shapes, size and colour. Commonly it consists of a cap or pileus and a stalk or stipe but others have additional structures like veil or annulus, a cup or volva. Mushrooms are known for their nutritive and medicinal value.

The standard mushroom is the cultivated white button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, a fungi (Basidiomycota, Agaricomycetes) that have a stem (called a stipe), a cap (called a pileus), and gills (each called a lamella/pl. lamellae) on the underside of the cap.

Agaricus bisporus (Lange) Sing is popularly known as the button mushroom. It grows at a temperature of 14-18° C. Its cultivation is more popular in temperate areas of the world. It is grown on compost prepared from rice paddy straw.

Materials:

Rice straw, 500 kg. (sugarcane bagasse, sugarcane leaves as substitutes)
Ammonium sulfate, 2%
Lime, 4%
Chicken manure (dried), 15-25%
Calcium sulfate, 2-2.5%
Urea, 1.5%
Potash, 1.5-2.0%
Water

Equipment:

1.5m x 10m x 1m compost bed
The Growing House

Procedure:

1. Preparation of compost – Straw is filed on the compost bed and water is sprinkled as filing is being done until water overflows on the sides. The pile is turned every fourth day. Chicken manure and urea are added on the first turning and ammonium sulfate and 2% lime on the second turning. The lumps formed are broken during the fermentation. Calcium sulfate, potash and the remaining 2% lime is supplemented on the third and last turning. Composting is completed for 16-20 days, depending on the rate of fermentation.

2. Bedding – In the newly composted materials are placed on shelves to a thickness of 12-15 cm. inside the growing house. The growing house must be enclosed for 5 days to conserve heat and increase the temperature to 55-65 C.

3. Planting and Casing – One-half kg. spawns per square meter of the bed are planted. The beds are then covered with 1.2 cm. soil that is obtained one (1) meter below the surface and previously mixed with 1% lime. The growing house is closed for two (2) weeks with occasional checking of spawn run. At a temperature of 17-22 C and a relative humidity of 85-90%, the first crop is harvested 20 days after casing.

To harvest the mushrooms, they are grasped by the stalk and gently twisted and pulled. A knife should not be used. The mushrooms remain fresh for up to 3 to 6 days in a refrigerator/cool place.

4. Care and Management – To prevent the contamination of white mold (Monilla sp.), green molds Penicillin sp.) and blue molds (Trichoderma), the following are employed:

a. Spot spray with Benlate at 1 tbsp. per 1/3 gallon of water.
b. Spray Azodrin to control millipedes
c. Spray ferrous sulfate at 200 ppm concentration to induce uniform break or pinhead formation.
d. Spray with Fuxal, a liquid fertilizer at a concentration of 1,000 ppm after the break.
e. Spray with tap water when relative humidity becomes lower than 75%.

5. Marketing – The key to the mushroom business is to have established buyers and be capable of consistent production. The commercial mushroom operation cost depending on whether a grower starts with an appropriate building. For the business tips for people contemplating commercial production: make the market drive your production, talk to potential buyers about volume and prices, explore various marketing options: brokers, distributors, farmers’ markets, restaurants, grocery stores, food service operations, and co-ops. Consider reselling other growers’ mushrooms to offer more variety and larger volume and talk to other producers and perhaps a consultant about production systems.

Sources: ITDI (DOST), www.gits4u.com/agri/agri5g.htm, www.indiaagronet.com