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Cultivation Of Mushrooms

Updated on June 23, 2016

Agaricus bisporus Mushroom

Agaricus bisporus Mushroom
Agaricus bisporus Mushroom | Source

Labelled Agaricus bisporus Mushroom

Diagram Of A Agaricus bisporus Mushroom With Labelling
Diagram Of A Agaricus bisporus Mushroom With Labelling | Source

A Coin From Ancient India Showing Mushrooms

 Magadha Janapada coin with astronomical symbols in association with mushrooms and the Tree of Life.
Magadha Janapada coin with astronomical symbols in association with mushrooms and the Tree of Life. | Source

A Chronology Of Mushroom Consumption

Mushrooms are the fruit bodies of edible Fungi (Fungi belonging to the Class- Basidiomycotina and rarely of Class- Ascomycotina). Mushrooms have been eaten over the ages by Man. According to ancient Indian Literature, Mushrooms are eaten from probably the 3000 BC's. There are records of Mushroom consumption in countries like Greece, England, Egypt, Italy, etc. The Greeks and Romans called Mushrooms - "Food For The Gods".

Mushrooms are found in ancient texts, paintings, sculptures, etc. An interesting fact regarding Mushrooms is its role in the Ancient symbol : Fleur-de-lis. It contains the Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge and The Mushroom of Immortality.

During the Greek and Roman Empires as well as in ancient India, Mushrooms were eaten after they were hand-picked and collected from their natural habitat. The cultivation of Mushrooms started in France in the 18th century and around the 1850's and 1860's, Mushroom cultivation became a huge industry in France. In India, edible Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) was first cultivated in Solan (In Himachal Pradesh) in the year 1961.

The common genera of edible fungi are Agaricus, Pleurotus and Volvariella. Out of them, Agaricus bisporus (New name is Agaricus brunnescens) is the most cultivated Mushroom all over the world.

In this Hub, I will describe the step-wise processes on how to Cultivate the Mushroom - Agaricus bisporus (also called Button Mushroom).

Packaged Spawn

Packaged Spawn
Packaged Spawn | Source

Step 1 : Preparation Of The Spawn


Spawn is the Seed of Mushroom as we might say. It is the pure mycelial (A mycelia is a mass of hyphae of a fungi) culture of a mushroom which is grown on a special medium of grains (Wheat, Rye, etc). The Spawn of Agaricus bisporus is prepared in three steps -

  • Preparation of the Substrate - Take about 1000 grams of Wheat (Rye or Sorghum will do) in about 900-1000 ml of water and boil them for about 20 minutes. The grains should be soft but not too much. Then, the grains should be air-dried in a shade by spreading over a plastic sheet. The Wheat grains are to be put in a container and mixed with 2 % Gypsum solution and 0.5 % Calcium Carbonate. Take about 400 grams of the wheat grains and fill them in a black plastic bag. The bag is to be tightly sealed by plugging its mouth by a non-absorbent cotton. It is to be further wrapped in a brown paper. Then, it is sterilized by Autoclave at 15 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes for two consecutive days. This sterilized wheat substrate (Wheat grains) is air dried and is then ready for inoculation.
  • Inoculation of the Substrate - The Substrate if then inoculated with the pure culture of mycelia of the Fungi Agaricus bisporus. It can be developed in Yeast Potato Dextrose Agar by plant scientists. You may buy the Pure Mycelial Culture from a SPAWN AND CULTURE GROWING CENTER or even Online.
  • Incubation of the Inoculated Substrate - The Inoculated Substrate is then incubated in a dark place at a temperature of 20-25 degree Celsius for 20 days. The Wheat grains would have mycelial growth on them (The grains would be whitish and sponge like).
  • Storage of the Spawn - If the spawn is not required immediately, it can be stored at a near-zero temperature for a maximum period of six months.

Dark brown to black colored Compost

Dark brown to black colored Compost
Dark brown to black colored Compost | Source

Step 2 : Preparing The Compost

There are two types of Compost used in the Cultivation of Mushrooms : Natural Compost and Synthetic Compost.

Natural Compost requires pure horse dung. Unless you have access to horse dung, it is better to use Synthetic Compost.

Things you need to prepare Synthetic Compost -

  • Chopped Wheat Straw (Cut, about 4-5 cm) - 400 kg
  • Wheat Bran (hard outer layer of grains) - 40 kg
  • Ammonium sulphate - 6 kg
  • Urea - 4 kg
  • Gypsum - 30 kg
  • Sawdust - 12 kg
  • Calcium Carbonate - 3 kg
  • Insecticide such as Malathion (10 ml dissolved in 5 l of water)

Process of preparing the Compost -

  • Sawdust is sprayed with water and then mixed with 20 kg Wheat Bran, 3 kg Ammonium sulphate and 2 kg Urea.
  • Next, Wheat Straw is watered and mixed with the Sawdust mixture. This total mixture is then stacked in a shady area and covered with a plastic sheet.
  • After 5-6 days, the stack of the mixture is scrapped and mixed with the rest 20 kg Wheat Bran, 3 kg Ammonium sulphate and 2 kg Urea.
  • It is then stacked in a heap again. This scrapping and stacking method is done 6-7 times.
  • During the 3rd and 4th time, Calcium Carbonate is mixed and during the last turning, an insecticide Malathion is added to the compost.
  • If however, the smell of Ammonia remains, the compost may be stacked again for 1-2 times.
  • About 80 % of the compost is filled in trays and pressed in such a way that a space of 3-4 cm remains on the top of the tray

Pinhead And Button Stage Of All Mushrooms Are Similar

Pinhead And Button Stage Of All Mushrooms Are Similar
Pinhead And Button Stage Of All Mushrooms Are Similar | Source

Step 3 : Inoculation Of The Compost (Spawning)

  • The Spawn is spread on the surface of the trays filled with Compost.
  • The Spawn layer is covered with the rest 20 % of the Compost and a little pressure is applied so that the spawn layer gets sandwiched in the layers of the Compost.
  • The trays should be covered with old newspapers and kept in such a way that proper aeration takes place.
  • Water should be applied on the newspapers and the temperature should be maintained around 25 degrees for about 15 days.
  • A dense white growth is seen on the compost and it becomes a solid hard mass. Then, a special "Casing Soil" must be prepared by using Soil : Sand in 1 : 1 ratio. The Soil-Sand mixture must be sterilized by heating at around 70-80 degree Celsius for 4-5 hours. A thin layer of the Casing Soil must be laid on the trays. After the Casing has been done, the temperature should be maintained at around 15-20 degree's for obtaining a healthy growth of Mushrooms.

Picture Showing The Soil Layers

Picture Showing The Soil Layers
Picture Showing The Soil Layers | Source

A Single Mature Fruit Body

A Single Fruit Body
A Single Fruit Body | Source

Harvesting Of 'Agaricus bisporus' Mushroom

The fruit bodies of the mushroom Agaricus bisporus (Umbrella like) will appear after 10-20 days of the Casing. First, the pin-heads will appear (small white 'pin-like' spots). In about a week, the Pinheads will develop into fully grown mature fruit bodies (bell button stage).

The mature fruit bodies are harvested by holding the base of the stalk and twisting gently. They should be washed with water and is then ready to be cooked or sold. If not required immediately, they could be stored for a few days at a temperature of 0-5 degree's.

After the first harvesting, the compost is watered and the same steps are applied. Then, the next crop appears after 10-12 days. A third crop may also appear if you're lucky! Feel blessed to consume the "Food For The Gods"!

Nutritive Value Of 'Agaricus bisporus' Mushroom

Energy value
% on fresh weight basis

Collage of Various Mushrooms or Fungi Fruit Bodies

Mushroom fruit bodies Collage
Mushroom fruit bodies Collage | Source

Do You Eat Mushrooms?

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© 2015 Souradip Sinha


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