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Mushroom Cultivation

Mushrooms have been valued throughout 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 perfect food for maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.

At present three types of mushrooms are being cultivated in India. These are white mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), paddy-straw mushroom (Volvariella vovvacea) and oyster mushroom (Pleurotus sajor-caju). Out of these, the white mushroom is the most popular and economically sound to grow and is extensively cultivated throughout the world. However, due to its low temperature requirement, its cultivation is restricted to the cool climatic areas. The climate in Kerala is mostly tropical and large-scale mushroom cultivation with temperature control would need an investment of about Rs2-5 crore. Hence cultivation in Kerala is restricted to home farms but with high-value varieties like oyster mushroom, which has high medicinal value. Suitable cultivation period in Kerala is October to May.

Pleurotus mushroom (oyster mushroom) requires a temperature of 20oC to 30oC, both for its vegetative growth (spawn run) and reproductive phase (formation of fruit bodies). The ganoderma lucidium mushroom, his flagship variety, takes about 100 days to grow; these are known for its antioxidant properties. This is plucked, dried and powdered so pinches of the mushroom can be added to milk or juice to be taken as food supplements.

The tropical paddy-straw mushroom is suitable for all seasons but it is less attractive commercially owing to very low yield per unit weight of the substrate and an extremely short shelf life. But, as a kitchen-garden crop it is preferred because it is very delicious and nutritious.

For successful mushroom production, it is necessary for each grower to produce as economically and efficiently as possible the highest quality of mushrooms. This can be accomplished among other requirements, by selecting the best strains which should be high yielding, visually attractive, having desirable flavour and resistance to adverse climate and pests and diseases. Presently, there are many strains of white, cream and brown varieties in cultivation. The brown variety is the natural 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 called spawn. The spawn is equivalent to vegetative seed of higher plant. Quality of spawn is basic for the successful mushroom cultivation. Compost for mushroom has a significant roll in production; as it is the basis for growing. Controlled temperature, humidity (85-95%), ventilation are essential for mushroom cultivation. Sterilization is another important factor in cultivation hence steaming at 1000 C (pasteurisation) is more acceptable.

Mushroom growing is an occupation requiring perseverance, patience, intelligent observation and a skill that can be developed only through expertise training and intelligent experience. Mushroom cultivation has grown from a hobby into a mini industry in Kerala, as all it needs is an investment of about Rs1, 000 and a small farm. It is not lucrative because the product is easily perishable and has to be sold out in a day.

Hartiha Organic Farms have specialized in Mushroom Production and environment control. We render Mushroom Farming Consultancy to the clients. We also provide, raw materials, training and tips to the clients to increase the production capacity and quality of mushrooms.