Have you wondered about growing edible mushrooms for profit? If so, this article is the perfect guide for understanding the process, costs, and expectations. You can also take our online course for mushroom cultivation
As mushrooms increase in popularity, more people are getting into the business of fresh mushroom cultivation. One question many of these people ask is about growing edible mushrooms for profit. There is no single way to grow edible mushrooms as each person’s access to market, finances, equipment, and skill greatly impact how they will grow mushrooms. The organic specialty mushroom market is one of the fastest growing sections of the mushroom industry. Organic, specialty mushrooms catch the highest price of all cultivated mushrooms. Cultivating specialty mushrooms is the most accessible way to growing edible mushrooms for profit.
There are three sectors in mushroom cultivation industry. Spawn production, bulk substrate production, and fruiting/sales. Most farms take on one of these at a time, focusing on one aspect and mastering it until the add on another or decide this is what they will specialize in. Below are two videos from Mycoterra Mushroom Farm in Deerfield MA. The first of their methods for block production and incubation. The second video is their fruiting rooms and storage.
The two most popular specialty mushrooms grown in the United States are shiitake and oyster. These two mushrooms have established markets and customer bases which allows a grower to expand sales quickly. Other specialty mushrooms like lion’s mane, pioppino, beech, maitake, enoki, and chestnut usually are more expensive but have very specialized markets. They can be more difficult to grow and require an outlet to be set up before diving into cultivation.
There are several key factors to consider when thinking about growing edible mushrooms for profit
Shiitake mushrooms have a long crop cycle, as do maitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms take about 50-60 days to incubate before they are ready to fruit. In contrast, oyster mushrooms and lion’s mane take about 15 days before they are ready to fruit. This means in the same space four crops of oyster mushrooms can be grown for every one crop of shiitake. If all other factors are the same like price per pound, yield, and cost of production, this makes oyster mushrooms one of the more profitable mushroom to cultivate.
At the end of the day, having high-yielding substrate is the best method for growing edible mushrooms for profit. To do this it is critical to use commercial mushroom strains like Fungi Ally LE-46, shiitake 3782, Blue Oyster 3015, or Yellow AM-1. Other high-yielding strains include yellow 140, blue 123, and 3790. Proper grow room conditions are also necessary for receiving the highest yield. Keeping humidity between 80-90%, CO2 below 800, and temperature around 55-65 is essential. In both of our studies on Shiitake and cordyceps strain was critical in maximizing yield. To see those studies and learn more about cultivating shiitake and cordyceps mushrooms for profit you can read the booklets here
When looking at how to grow edible mushrooms for profit, the substrate the mushrooms are grown on and how it is sterilized is also crucial. Oyster mushrooms are best grown on a mix of soybean hulls and sawdust. This requires steam sterilization and a lab to inoculate but has the best return in yield. Growing oyster on straw will not achieve a similar yield. Shiitake can likewise be grown on logs using low-tech methods but the yields will be very low. Shiitake is best grown on a mix of sawdust, wheat bran, and gypsum. This also requires steam sterilization and a lab to inoculate but is much more productive than log cultivation.
Price per pound and at what quantity
Looking at what price will be paid for the mushrooms is a key aspect in to growing edible mushrooms for profit. Oyster mushrooms are sold anywhere from $5-$15/lb for retail. Shiitake are sold anywhere from $8-$15/lb for retail. Depending where on this scale the accessible markets are purchasing mushrooms will determine what is profitable to grow. Do some research in grocery stores and other buyers near the prospective farm to see which mushroom can be grown in quantity with the best price.
Cost of production for growing edible mushrooms
One of the last factors that impact the profitability of a farm is the cost of production. Looking at local sources for substrate media, like sawdust, soybean hulls, wheat bran, and spawn are important aspects to look into. Computing the cost of each unit produced and how much will yield off of that is critical. Take into factor the cost of rent, labor, substrate, spawn, bags, and other pieces for EACH species and compare this to yield and price received by pound to find how to grow edible mushrooms for profit.
Ready-to-fruit Mushroom blocks for growing edible mushrooms
Want to dive into growing your own edible mushrooms for profit? Try our ready-to-fruit mushroom blocks (email us now to order). The mushroom blocks are roughly 5.5 lb blocks of supplemented sawdust measuring about 12″x6″x8″. We offer blue, pink, and yellow oyster, shiitake, lion’s mane and other species for custom orders. Each block costs $5 and the minimum order is 50, which can be a mix and match. They are ready to fruit when you receive them so need to be stored in a walk in cooler until initiated. They can last for about 3-4 weeks in a cooler before they start fruiting in the bag and yield is decreased.