Mushroom is a term typically used for the edible fungi. The mushrooms are the fruiting body of specific fungi with an umbrella-shaped structure. The fruiting body is scientifically called by the name sporophore. The body of mushrooms has two main parts. The upper part is a cap called “pileus,” and the lower part is a stalk known as “stipe.” Mushrooms predominantly belong to the family Agaricaceae.
There are two terms used for the fleshy fruiting body of the fungus. One is mushroom, and the other is toadstool. The term mushroom is chiefly reserved for the edible types of fungi, while the term toadstool is used to identify the deadly and inedible sporophores. However, there is no proper distinction between these two terms.
Mushrooms contain essential amino acids and types of vitamin B in a minimal amount. They are cholesterol-free. Considering the nutrition content by fresh weigh, there is about 92 percent water in a common mushroom, grown commercially. Carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, fats, and mineral salts constitute the remaining percentage content.
Researches show that the mushrooms are not rich in nutrition. However, they are very demanding and worthy because of their pleasant texture, delicate structure, and excellent flavor. The aroma of mushrooms is also very captivating. Wild mushrooms are poisonous and may be lethal. They may produce mild allergic reactions and slight disturbance to the gastrointestinal system of the human body. So, it is essential to identify the mushrooms which are intended for eating accurately. A very common edible and commercially grown mushroom is very closely related to specie A. bisporus. It can be easily seen in the markets.
Depending on the supply of food available, moisture, and temperature conditions, the mycelium of fungi plants’ fruiting body may continue to produce the new crop in its fruiting season and live over the years. Mushrooms can appear in two forms. They may appear above the ground where they can be picked by hands or appear below the ground.
The same set of information applies to mushrooms’ growing process regardless of the area and increasing level. They increase by the same method either at home in a small space or on a commercial scale. They can grow in a remote area and variable environmental conditions.
The mushrooms do not grow from seeds. They grow from the spores. Spores are small structures. We cannot see the individual spore by the naked eye. These spores do not rely on the soil. Any grain, wood chip, or straw is the growing medium and source of nourishment for spores. The mixture of these nutrient sources and spores is known as “spawn.” Spawn is the material used to grow the mushrooms, which helps the mycelium grow and flourish.
The spawn can grow alone on its own, but the results are incredible when it blends with the growing medium.
The ideal environment is necessary for mushrooms to grow. The basics are as follows:
The ideal temperature for mushrooms to grow must be between 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Few types of mushrooms rise better at a low temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Winters are the best for growing mushrooms and to have good yield productivity.
Humid, cold, and dark places are favorable in the growth of mushrooms. The fungi must be away from direct sunlight. They can bear small light, but a shady spot with light exposure of the sun is preferable.
Mushrooms do not need proper soil for growth. They need substrates. The substrate can be anything like compost, spawn, straw, etc. Mushrooms are one of the easiest plants to farm.
A correct blend of manure and ideal environmental conditions is required by mushrooms to grow exponentially. An adequate amount of nitrogen level is necessary for growth, and this nitrogen content can be provided by using manure, compost, and fertilizers.
Mushrooms love water. They grow better and at fast speed in moist places. The humidity keeps the substrate moist and adds benefits. When the level or ratio of moisture is 85 percent, it is the best environment for mushrooms to blossom.
The growing process consists of three periods. The brief detail of each period with ideal conditions is as follows:
- Incubation Period
- Pinhead Formation
It is the initial stage of the growing process. In this period, the spores and substrate inoculate with each other. Then you have placed this spawn in a dark and cold environment. The method of germination takes place, and mycelium grows. This period consists of 2-4 weeks with total darkness, low temperature, and zero air exchange. The humidity level must be very high.
Pinheads are the mushrooms when they are in a smaller stage or size. In this period, indirect sunlight is exposed to them, and then the mycelium grows healthy mushrooms(pinheads). This period consists of 5 to 10 days.
It is the final and last period of the growing process. It consists of 3 days to 1 week. An exchange of fresh air with a low level of humidity is necessary for cropping.
A step-by-step procedure of growing mushrooms is as follows:
- Prepare the compost. The compost mostly consists of nitrogen components as nitrogen-rich nutrients re helpful to speed up the growing process. The pile of initial compost must have a width and height of 5 to 6 feet. In the final composting, the homogenous material with low ammonia content is the desired result as the free ammonia is dangerous and toxic to mushrooms.
- A tray having dimensions of 14×16 inches with a resemblance of a seed flat is required. Fill the compost material in the tray with a depth of almost 6 inches. Then, drizzle the spawn on the top of compost material.
- During the first three weeks, the substrate’s temperature is increased up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit until the growth of fungi at the mycelium level. After that, the temperature should drop to 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cover the substrate with a cloth and maintain the moisture. Make sure to sprinkle the water on the fabric when it dries.
- The crop takes the time of almost 3 to 4 weeks to grow up to the level of harvesting. But, this period varies depending on the varieties.
- Harvest the mushrooms with a sharp knife from the stem when the caps open. Pulling them may disturb the mushrooms growing in the surroundings, so do not hurt them.
- You can enjoy the crop for about six months when harvesting is being done regularly.
The cost of growing mushrooms depends upon the variety and type of mushroom. However, a general charge of 1 arce mushroom farming is described here. The permanent and initial cost to grow mushrooms is about 40,000 PKR or 240 USD. This cost includes building units, sand, drums, gunny bags, and boiling vessels. Around 7500 PKR or 45 USD is the recurring cost in mushroom growing. The cost of spawn, polythene bags, hay, chemicals, electricity, and irrigation all are included in this.
Considering the mushroom cultivation profit, the farmers can earn a total income of 540000 PKR or 3200 USD in a year by cultivating mushrooms in two rooms of 10×10 feet.
The mushroom cultivation is relatively easy and straightforward. With care and proper management, the handsome yield production can no longer be a dream. The production cycle and biological rhythms are essential for better results. Experience can be a plus point regarding the production system.
The production of yield depends upon the efficiency of a farmer in monitoring the crop.
So, it is concluded that with a low cost of production, the farmers can get a handsome amount by cultivating mushrooms. The mushrooms can be farmed throughout the whole year except in the summer season. Even with small land tenure, the cultivation of mushrooms is highly profitable.