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Agritalk - Mushroom

Mushroom Cultivation Tips for Beginners

Mrs. Surma S. Achar (Proprietor, Nirupama Enterprises),
Mr. Tusharkant Mehta (Chief Scientist & Proprietor Gaia Biotech)
and Dr. Marcos Jos Correia (Mushroom Consultant from Brazil)
share their ideas/suggestions about mushroom cultivation for
beginners on the AgricultureInformation.com forum
Investment Required

r. Marcos says, The primary invest

ment for mushroom cultivation depends on mushroom variety, the level of
technology utilized and the volume of production. Someone can start a mushroom
culture by spending a few hundred rupees/
dollars, using simple and inexpensive devices for substrate preparation or, on the
contrary, a high cost system involving hundred thousand dollars/rupees by utilizing
mixing machines, steam boilers and specialized peoples.
Cultivation growing houses are also an
important component for cost evaluation.
Thatch houses are cheaper and maintain temperature and air moisture dispensing climate
controlling devices, but its use is best recommended for small growers.
Mr. Mehta emphasizes that the most important decision that a farmer has to take is
the quantity to be produced on a daily basis. The minimum volume that one should
start with should be at least 10 kilograms of
fresh mushrooms of any variety daily. For a
farm cultivating oyster mushrooms this
would mean a farm of 300 square feet floor
area, for a farm cultivating milky mushrooms this would be 400 square feet, he
Factors to be taken into consideration to
determine which variety to grow:
1. First aspect is the variety characteristics,
called growth parameters that include temperature, CO2 concentration light require-

ments for spawn run, primordial formation

and fruit body development and cropping
cycle that hold out from 3 to 16 weeks depending on the species.
2. The second aspect to be taken into account is raw material availability, such as
straws, sugarcane bagasse, cotton agrowastes and other cellulosic materials.
3. The third aspect is the local environment
characteristics. Temperature, air humidity
and/or seasonal climate variation along the
year are important factors for mushroom
physiological development.
Confronting these three aspects it will find
a consistent criterion for the kind of mushroom to be cultivated, says Dr. Marcos.
Depending on the investment plan and
sustainability, marketing and logistics with
the natural resourcefulness locally first time
cultivators can choose from oyster and milky

Agriculture & Industry Survey - Vol. 22, Issue 12 - 2012 - 20

mushrooms, advises Mrs. Achar. Button

mushroom needs more care and controlled
atmosphere. In tropical conditions with few
months of rain oyster and milky mushrooms
can be grown throughout the year, she says.
Mr. Mehta suggests four varieties of mushrooms to be cultivated on a commercial scale
oyster mushrooms, paddy straw mushrooms, milky mushrooms, and button mushrooms.
1. Oyster Mushrooms: Oyster Mushrooms are the easiest to cultivate. They can
be sold both fresh and as dehydrated (dried).
Primarily a temperate variety of mushroom
that grows best under mild temperatures of
below 25C. There are now some temperature-tolerant strains developed that can be
cultivated all year round and even at temperatures above 35C. The average wholesale price is usually Rs.50 per kilogram while
in retail the price ranges from Rs.70 to
Rs.120 per kilogram depending upon the
locality where it is to be sold.
2. Milky Mushrooms: Milky mushrooms
are gaining popularity too. They have a big
advantage of very good shelf life of over one
week at room temperature. With proper
cooling they can be stored for a very long
period. Their cultivation technique is very
much alike oyster mushrooms with slight
modifications. The biggest advantage for
milky mushrooms is that it grows at temperatures above 28 C and upto 38C, which
means that this variety can be successfully
cultivated for more than 9 months in coastal
regions of India and for about 8 months of
year in plains of India.
3. Paddy Straw Mushrooms: Paddy straw
mushrooms are popular in Odisha and parts
of Jharkhand, and Bengal. These mushrooms
grow best at temperatures between 28C
and 36C. The most popular variety is black
or grey in colour. There is a white variety
4. Button Mushroom: It is the most popu-

Agritalk - Mushroom
lar (from market demand standpoint) and
most difficult to grow. It is strictly meant
for experts and requires lot of capital investment. It is highly temperature sensitive
and compost specific. Temperature has to
be maintained very stringently to get good
quality and quantity. Under natural conditions many cultivate it but only in places
where winter temperatures of 15C during
day will last for more than 3 months. For
other places where day temperature is more
than 22C the chances of failure are maximum. There are two varieties Agaricus
bisporus and Agaricus bitorquis. The former
one is the most popular worldwide though
the later one would be cheaper to cultivate
since its minimum temperature requirement
is 22C; 6C higher than A bisporus.

Switching Varieties

r. Marcos says that by utilizing ap

propriate technology and strains, the
grower can not only switch to another variety but also cultivate two or more species
simultaneously by observing time of life
cycle, environmental conditions (light, temperature, and air humidity) and nutritional
requirements of strains. Oyster and milky
mushroom, for example, can be cultivated
in the same growing house at same time, he
Mr. Mehta informs there are many cultiva-

Mrs. Surma Achar

urma Achar is the proprietor of Nirupama Enterprises, which

is headquartered in Bangalore. The company supplies oyster mushroom.
Mrs. Achar says that the most commonly sold and accepted
mushrooms in the Indian market and hospitality industry are
oyster, shiitake, reishi and button mushroom. All are sold
fresh and dry depending on the usage and composition it is used
for. For example all the dry varieties have more shelf life and
availability throughout the year long. They can be used in the
research and medicines for many ailments.
Mrs. Achar stresses that marketing is the essence of mushroom cultivation. It will give
instant result and a feedback how best your product is doing in the market. There are
different modes and ways to publish, advertise and spread awareness about mushroom.
There is a huge requirement so prospects are very bright, she concludes.
For more information, contact : Surma Achar, NIRUPAMA ENTERPRISES, #35, 29th
cross, 2nd main,7th block, Jaynagar, Bangalore 560082, Tel : 9902058295,
Email : surma.achar@yahoo.co.in
tors who grow different varieties of mushrooms in different season in same farm set
up. This is possible but with proper care;
since spores of one variety will interact with
other variety and cause problems in cultivation. You cannot grow two varieties in the
same shed simultaneously. There should be
a solid partition between two sections so
spores of one variety do not enter the cultivation area of the other variety. If same shed
is used for different variety of mushroom
according to season then the cultivation area

Mr.Tusharkant Mehta
Producers of spawn for mushroom cultivators. Headquartered in

aia Biotech is a tissue culture laboratory established in 1992. It is headquartered in

Kolkata. Mr. Tusharkant Mehta is the chief scientist and
proprietor of the company. We were earlier into mushroom
cultivation. But from inception we faced constant problem
with getting good quality mushroom spawn. We then decided
to use our expertise and learning in making good spawn for the
cultivators. In 1994 we closed our mushroom farm and started
a spawn laboratory, says Mr. Mehta.
According to Mr. Mehta marketing is the main challenge in the
mushroom business. Post-harvest technologies are hardly
ever used. Direct markets are less and cultivators are at the
mercy of wholesalers or agents who reap more profit, says
Mr. Mehta, adding, Exports market is big but lack of cold
chain facility and bureaucratic hurdles are hampering growth.
Future Plans : Mr. Mehta maintains the company is developing a spawn that would be
self-sufficient in nutrition, pesticide, and growth regulators. The company has also been
producing tissue culture bananas and orchids for local farmers and nurseries. Sugarcane
that would be salinity tolerant is also in the pipe line. Mr. Mehta is M.Sc in Biotech. For
the last 11 years I have been coordinating mushroom cultivation technology training course
at the Agri Horticultural Society of India in Kolkata. This training course is recognized by
the West Bengal Ministry of Horticulture and Food Processing, National Horticultural
Board and NABARD.
For more information, contact : Mr.Tusharkant Mehta, Chief Scientist & Proprietor, Gaia
Biotech, # 215 Old China Bazar Street, Kolkata 700001, Tel : 9883295115,
Fax: 0334940095, Email : mehta.tushar1@gmail.com, gaiabiotech@ymail.com

should be cleaned properly.

Pests and Insects

o fight pests and insects, Mr. Mehta

recommends the use of pesticides like
Dimethoate or Chlorpyriphos which would
remain for a long time on the walls and internal structures like bed frames, or hangers
and destroy the eggs or larvae of the pests
and keep them free from them for quite some
time. To help in inhibiting pathogens like
moulds from spreading, the farm and its internal structures should be sprayed with a
long residue and cheap fungicide like
Mancozeb, Zineb, and Blitox. Another
method that can be followed is to seal the
cropping area well and then spray Formalin
(formaldehyde) inside and lock the room/
shed for 48 hours. After that the windows
and doors are opened and fresh air introduced to evacuate all traces of Formaldehyde. This treatment renders the cultivation area pathogen and pest free for quite
some time.

Marketing Mushrooms

ricing and packaging are important com

ponent of marketing the products. Mr.
Mehta comments, Proper packaging if
possible CAP (controlled atmospheric packaging) or MAP (modified atmospheric packaging) would not only make your product
attractive but also preserve it for longer time.
Pricing should be according to the local market demand, but I would suggest keeping
the price low as that would encourage more
people to purchase and try mushrooms and
perhaps include them in their daily diet.
Even at minimum prices (oyster @ Rs.50/
kg, milky and paddy straw @ 80/kg) a cultivator would earn at least 100% profit if
they can reach directly to the consumer. If
they go via middle men then slightly less

21 - Vol. 22, Issue 12 - 2012 - Agriculture

& Industry Survey

Agritalk - Mushroom
Dr. Marcos Jos Correia
Brazil based consultant, experienced in substrate pasteurization and
indoor environment control for mushroom cultivation

r. Marcos Jos Correia is a professor at the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco

state in Brazil teaching biochemistry. Dr. Marcos is a chemical engineer and did his
doctorate in Applied Microbiology. He has been working with
development of technology for mushroom cultivation since
1990. He has extensive experience in substrate pasteurization
and indoor environment control for mushroom cultivation.
Before joining Federal Rural University, I was the technical
advisor and director of industrial plant champion company
Hongos Riojas, located in Las Beams Ramirez, Veracruz,
Mexico, says Dr. Marcos. Speaking about the latest technologies available in mushroom cultivation to produce high
quality mushrooms, Dr. Marcos says, The latest technologies follow the same principle of previous technologies, but
use more advanced features such as mechanical, control systems for temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels by using electronic sensors and
computer support. These features allow more accurate control in steps of substrate preparation and cultivation. With these new technological resources one can prepare substrates
with more nutritional quality and also have more precise environmental conditions for
indoor cultivation.
For more information, contact : Dr. Marcos Jos CORREIA, mjcogumelo@gmail.com
profit is earned but even then there is a very
high percentage of return on investment compared to any other form of business/industry. Dr. Marcos says, In India, the mushroom production shot up from mere 5,000
tonnes in 1990 to over 100,000 tonnes in
2010. In regard to relations between producers and buyers, I believe that the former
should organize themselves in Associations
to realize commercial and logistic operations.
By means of Associations or Cooperative
Companies growers can provide more easily contact to buyer as well as negotiate price
and time of payment.


peaking about the returns, Dr. Marcos

maintains, Depending on the technological level and area size, return can be
achieved at first crops (in small set culture)
or since first year of crop (in large scale
cultivation). However the rate of return is
function of price practiced by market.
Mr. Mehta says the return is dependent on
the mushroom variety. If one starts a
paddy straw mushroom farm then the first
crop is harvestable within 12 days from the
date of spawning; if one starts oyster mushroom farm then the first harvestable crop is
within 24 days , for milky mushrooms this
period is 32 days and for button mushrooms
this would be 36 days . The first harvest
also depends upon the climate/weather.

knowledge, economics behind the project,

calculated risk along with practical experience is important. More skills and expertise
would develop during cultivation by observing mushrooms response to day to day conditions.

Certification and Licenses

ushrooms are considered as horticul

tural products and commonly do not
need special licenses for cultivation. However, it depends on the local laws, commercial demands or use of post-harvest processes says Dr. Marcos.
Mr. Mehta stresses on maintaining quality
of the products, especially for exports. To
export you will need phytosanitory certificate, plant quarantine certificate, pseudomonas free lab testing report, and laboratory
test report of your product itself. Every
consignment/invoice needs all the above
mentioned certifications to be attached with
them every time. This involves sizeable capital investment. If you are interested in sup-


hree of them suggests, for a beginner

basic training from a known authorized
or certified cultivator to gain the theoretical
Agriculture & Industry Survey - Vol. 22, Issue 12 - 2012 - 22

plying fresh mushrooms or frozen mushrooms then your farm must also be located
close to an international airport or port. The
need for cold chain from farm to airport and
then in the airplane is essential.
Mr. Mehta points out that a trade license
enlistment is required to achieve legal status and start cultivation of mushroom. If
you want to cultivate button mushrooms
on a large scale then permit and no objection certification is required from the Pollution Control Board since during the compost preparation as lot of obnoxious gases
are emitted. Button mushroom farms are
not allowed near cities or large residential
areas. If one wants to produce byproducts
or set up processing unit then FPO license
is required. These processed mushrooms
then attract local taxes as applicable as well
as VAT @ 13.5% and CST @2%. Processed
mushrooms include canned, pickled or dried
mushrooms. Fresh mushrooms are considered as fresh vegetables and do not have
any taxes on them.

Important Points in a

mportant points to be known before start

ing the mushroom cultivation include:
1. A person wanting to start a mushroom
farm should get proper training to get acquainted with all the possible factors that
govern the quality and quantity of mushrooms cultivated.
2. Decide which variety to cultivate by surveying the local market (for a small farmer)
or international demand (for a big farmer).
3. Decide which variety to cultivate depending upon the agro climatic conditions of the
4. Search for a good spawn supplier who
would provide first generation spawn of the
correct variety at reasonable rate.
5. Keep arrangement for preserving excess
production either by drying, canning or pickling.
Get more information at http://bit.ly/VitWr7

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