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Cultivation of button mushroom involves:

Spawn
Mushroom spawn is technically equivalent to seed of a plant, although, in reality, it is
a pure mushroom mycelium (vegetative growth) growing on a sterilized grain
medium. The grain medium is prepared from boiled grains of cereal or millet like
wheat, bajra, jowar and rye mixed with chalk-powder and gypsum. The medium is
sterilized after filling in heat resistant glass bottles or polypropylene bags at 121C
and inoculated with pure culture of A. bisporus. The medium soon gets impregnated
with mushroom mycelium if incubated at 25C and is ready for use in 23 weeks.
Compost
The substrate used for button mushroom is a partially decomposed organic matter
prepared under aerobic conditions and is generally termed as compost. In India, straw
of wheat or paddy have generally replaced horse manure as the base material for
mushroom compost. It is known as synthetic compost. Several formulations of
compost have been worked out, the most commonly used are:
Long method compost (unpasteurized)
Solan
Wheat straw

300kg

Calcium ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulphate (20.6% N)

9kg

Urea (46% N)

3.6kg

Potassium sulphate or muriate of potash

3.0kg

Wheat bran or

30.0kg

Spent brewers grains

40.0kg

Gypsum

30.0kg

Nemagon (60%)

40ml

Furadan 3 G

150g

Lindane or BHC 5% dust

250g

Molasses

5kg

Ludhiana
Wheat straw

300kg

Poultry manure

60kg

Wheat bran

7.5kg

CAN

6kg

Urea

2kg

Superphosphate

2kg

Potassium sulphate

2kg

Gypsum

30kg

Lintox

60ml

Srinagar
Wheat straw

300kg

Molasses

12kg

Urea

4.5kg

Wheat bran

50kg

Muriate of potash

2kg

Cotton seed meal

5kg

Gypsum

15kg

Lindane

250g

Shillong
Paddy straw

400kg

Ammonium sulphate

9kg

Urea

3.6kg

Sulphate of potash

3.0kg

Single super phosphate

3.0kg

Wheat bran (or flour)

30.0kg

Gypsum

30.0kg

Molasses

5.0kg

Temik

40.0gm

BHC 5%

250gm

Kelthane or Ecalux

40ml

Any of the above formulations can be used for preparing long method compost
(LMC) which is accomplished outdoors in about 28 days. The constituents included in
the formulations ensure the N levels initially at 1.51.75 and finally at 1.25%, as also
the C:N ratio between 25 and 30 at starting and 1618 at the end. The straw after
thorough wetting for 24 hr is mixed with the bran fertilizer mixture prepared with
two-thirds quantities of ammonium sulphate and urea and the entire quantity of SSP
and SOP added to 15kg of moistened wheat bran and left overnight covered with wet
gunny sheets. The substrate so prepared is formed into a large heap to encourage
intense microbial activities causing the generation of heat reaching up to 7580C.
The heap is broken and remade on the sixth day after adding the bran fertilizer
mixture made the previous night with the remaining ingredients and slurry made with
molasses, nematicide and insecticides in 10 litres of water. Every 34 days, the heap
is broken and remade (turned) after adding water to maintain around 75% moisture
and allowing aerobic conditions. Normally 78 turnings are necessary with addition
of gypsum at third and BHC or Lindane at the 7th turning. The compost after seventh
or eighth turning is ready for seeding (spawning) if free from ammonia, otherwise
more turnings are necessary.
Short method compost (pasteurized)
Solan
Wheat straw

1000kg

Chicken manure

400kg

Brewers grain

72kg

Urea

14.5kg

Gypsum

30kg

Bangalore
Wheat straw

300kg

CAN or ammonium sulphate

9kg

Super phosphate

9kg

Wheat bran

15kg

Gypsum

30kg

Thus short method compost can be prepared accordingly if completed in 1820


days in outdoor and indoor phases. During the outdoor phase, the straw is prewetted and spread before the entire quantities of chicken manure and Brewers
grains are added in layers. Ample water and trampling makes the loose stack
almost anaerobic which is normally given a turning after 23 days. An aerobic
heap is prepared 2 days later after adding the full quota of urea. About 34
turnings on alternate days complete the outdoor phase.
The phase-II is done indoors either in a bulk chamber or in a pasteurization
room. The bulk chamber is especially designed for phase-II composting and is
fitted with boiler-fed steam-pipes and a blower. Bulk pasteurization in such
chambers has now become more popular particularly in bigger farms. The
phase-I compost is directly filled into the chamber up to a height of 67 feet,
while it is filled in trays or shelves to a depth of 1722cm in a pasteurization
room. In either case, the temperature is allowed to rise first to 4850C and
after 68hr it is raised by steam injection to 5759C for effective pasteurization
of the compost. When both the air and compost temperatures have reached and
maintained at this range for 46hr, fresh air is introduced slowly to lower down
the compost temperature to 5052C for conditioning, which takes 34 days and
is indicated by the absence of ammonia. Introduction of more fresh air brings
down the temperature of compost to 2528C, when it is ready for seeding.
Spawning and spawn run
The compost made by long or short method is filled in trays, or shelves or more
commonly in polybags, after mixing the spawn through compost @ 0.5%. The
spawned beds are kept covered with formalin dipped paper sheets or by closing the
mouth of the bags,. The beds if incubated at 24C, with relative humidity maintained
between 8085%, get fully impregnated with mushroom mycelium and when the
spawn-run is completed (in 23 weeks), the compost turns light brown from deep
brown and is ready for casing.
Casing and case run
The spawn run beds are then covered by 12" thick layer of casing material, which is
necessary to initiate fruiting, though its role in fruiting is only partially understood.
Casing material should have the characteristics like poor in nutrient, good waterholding capacity but a texture permitting good aeration and a pH of 77.5. The best
and the most commonly used casing material is the peat-moss, which is directly used
for casing after adding lime or chalk to adjust the pH and also after pasteurization.

However, due to its paucity in India, one of the following mixtures is being used in
our country.

12 years old and rotten cowdung + clay loam soil (1:1).


12 years rotten cowdung + clay loam soil + 2 years old spent compost
(1:1:2).
2 years old spent compost + sand + lime (4:1:1).
Garden loam + sand (4:1)

The casing material is pasteurized either by steaming (6065C for 6 hr) or by


adding 3% formalin solution (3 litres formalin in 40 litres of water), covering with a
polythene sheet for 1520 days. Before casing, the material is allowed to cool or
become free from formaldehyde. To encourage the mushroom mycelium to fully
impregnate the casing soil, temperature is maintained around 24C for 710 days.
After this the room temperature is brought down to 1418C and ample ventilation is
provided to reduce CO2 level, preferably below 1,000ppm. The relative humidity of
the room is maintained between 85 and 90%. The casing layer is given light spray of
water to prevent its drying.
Harvesting and Postharvest Management
Mushroom pin-heads start appearing after another 710 days. They appear in flushes
every 710 days. They are harvested accordingly. About two-third of the total crop
can be harvested within first 3 weeks. The beds retain up to 6 weeks of fruiting. The
growing rooms are then emptied and cooked out to kill pests/pathogens, if any,
attacking the crop to protect the subsequent crop-cycle.
Generally mushrooms are harvested as buttons, which if allowed to grow further to
reveal pink gills due to ruptured veil are known are cup. They further grow in size
and become fully open or flat exposing dark gills. If the harvesting is delayed
further, it deteriorates and dies soon.
Mushrooms have a very short shelf-life. They should be sold immediately after
harvesting. They are stored without washing in paper envelopes kept in plastic bags to
prevent moisture loss and are stored in a refrigerator (lower shelves) for less than a
week.
Some precautions
Important precautions are:

Maintain cleanliness in and around the farm. Any left over or refuses must be
burried in soil.
Prepare substrate only on a cemented platform cleaned with 2% formalin
solution.
Use of pasteurized compost and casing should be preferred.
Use healthy spawn free from contaminants. Reject spawn showing even a little
infection.

Clean area, trays, old bags before spawning.


Growing rooms must be cooked-out with live-steam for 12hr at temperature
above 70C, before/after a crop. Alternatively, spray thoroughly 2% formalin
solution on floor, walls, racks etc. and keep the room closed for 24hr before
use.
Use a foot-dip (with germicidal solution) before entering the growing
area/rooms.
Personal hygiene of workers and use of clean and disinfected tools/implements
during spawning/casing and harvesting.
Reject any infected bag/mushroom and treat them with formalin before they
are buried in the soil.
Growing rooms should be provided with insect-proof nets in doors
and windows or any other inlets.
Use safe and recommended doses of pesticides only when
absolutely necessary and between the flushes.