There are many people thinking about and actually starting a mushroom farm in their existing homes or businesses.
In this post we explore commercial mushroom farming and how to start slow and make a profitable business. Starting a mushroom farm can be a large undertaking. if you would like help making a plan or helping design a farm that will fit for you, email willie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many different ways to start a mushroom farm. The process that Fungi Ally went through was going from outdoor log cultivation to indoor cultivation on straw, to purchasing ready-to-fruit blocks and then indoor cultivation on supplemented sawdust. Our focus has been commercial mushroom farming for the last three years.
Developing a mushroom farm that is focused on log cultivation is relatively straight forward. Here is a great resource for this method of cultivation. They have done extensive research into shiitake production cycle and cost/benefit analysis for starting log cultivation. In commercial mushroom farming, log cultivation can be difficult to actually make money. It is very labor intensive and slow growing. One huge benefit is that most of the time is spent outdoors and minimal initial investment is needed. Finding logs through a tree company or forester, purchasing spawn, and doing the initial inoculation will get you started growing mushrooms.
Starting a mushroom farm that focuses on indoor cultivation takes a little more planning, technical experience, and investment. This is the method of commercial mushroom farming that most mushrooms found in the grocery store or at farmers market are grown with. Creating a mushroom farm like this requires the development of infrastructure to:
- Treat substrate
- Store mushrooms
Many farms start off paying for parts of the process to be done off farm. Fungi Ally offers ready to fruit blocks for commercial mushrooms farmers that do not have the equipment for treating, inoculating, and incubating mushrooms to start. This makes starting a mushroom farm a much easier task as you only need to worry about fruiting and selling mushrooms to start with. For more information on pricing and delivery options email willie at email@example.com.
To learn more about growing oyster mushrooms on straw visit this article on the topic. This booklet outlines several different methods for treating straw. Another option is to autoclave the material at 15 psi for 2 hours or use atmospheric steam, keeping the material at 210 degrees F for 16 hours. When you start a mushroom farm, it is important to think before hand what method you want to treat substrate with because this will greatly impact the infrastructure and scale of production you will explore. Currently we use atmospheric steam with a sauna steamer and a metal trough to treat 180 bags at a time.
Inoculation on a commercial mushroom farm varies depending on the substrate. If you are using straw and pasteurizing or treating with lime, inoculation can happen in the open air. If you are starting a mushroom farm that uses supplemented sawdust you will need to inoculate in a lab. A lab is essentially a dedicated room with a flow hood in it that cleans all the air. All inoculations should talk place in front of the flow hood if using supplemented sawdust.
Incubation is the next step. There are a range of ways to incubate, but in essence, it is the process of allowing the mushroom mycelium to colonize the substrate. The bags need to have space between each other so heat does not build up and some air movement allows for faster incubation.
For indoor commercial mushroom farming, the whole cycle with oysters typically takes about 6-8 weeks. Fruiting the mushrooms takes a specialized room where temperature, humidity, CO2, and lighting is controlled. Temperature can range between 55 and 75 degrees; different strains and species of mushroom can be grown as the temperature vary or wide temperature fruiting strains can be used.
When developing a mushroom farm, the fruiting room is an important place to dial in. Keeping CO2 ppm below 800 is necessary. In practical terms this means exchanging all the air in a room every 10-15 minutes. Humidity should be kept between 80-95% during pinning and 70-85% during fruit body development. It can be advantageous to drop the humidity several hours before harvesting to increase storage and quality of mushrooms.
Storage and compost:
Storing the mushrooms should be done in a container which allows airflow. The mushrooms should be allowed to breath and not stacked too high on top of each other. On a commercial mushroom farm immediately after harvest the mushrooms are placed into cold storage at 34-37 degrees. The substrate can be used to fruit an additional time or composted.
Starting a mushroom farm can be a large undertaking. If you would like help making a plan or helping design a farm that will fit for you, email willie at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are doing it yourself, be sure to ask lots of questions and tour some mushroom farms before diving in. We have found commercial mushroom farming to be very rewarding in providing a great product to our community and making a livelihood.