Milky Mushroom-First time cultivation in Pakistan
Cultivation of mushroom round the year is a big challenge in Pakistan. This has turned out to be fundamental impediment in its popularity here. Its consistent supply is secured by importing in good restaurants. Mushroom is mostly cultivated in winter season in Pakistan. However, in Pakistan is for the most part confronting hot climate in a substantial portion of its ranges. So, it is not suitable for grower to cultivate continuously round the year. To cope with this there is need to introduce some heat tolerant types. In this scenario, milky mushroom (Calocybe indica) is proved to be an important key. It can be cultivated from March to October bearing temperature from 25 to 35 degree Celsius. It can also bear maximum temperature of 38 degree Celsius.
Mushroom as a blessing have nearly double amount of protein comparing meat, mainly used as vegetable and in processing industry. It is found to be very safe for cancer, cardiovascular, diabetics and high blood pressure patient. Mushroom does not require land for cultivation as our conventional crops do. It can be grown in rooms in door. Mushroom have lot of types among them button and oyster are popular in our country. It is present in supermarkets of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi that is imported. Shitake mushroom is available in dry forms in these markets. Due to its color, it is also called black mushroom. Oyster is mostly grown because of its easy cultivation method. But button mushroom is mostly preferred by consumer. Now cultivation is started mostly in Islamabad and Faisalabad by different farm houses. Institute of horticultural sciences and department of plant pathology in university of agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) are conducting short courses/trainings for awareness.
In UAF, different experiments were conducted to find its type that can be grown in comparatively under hot environment. The mushroom that was screened out was milky mushroom. Due to its heat tolerance ability, it is proved to be beneficial for grower of Punjab and Sindh province. It can also be cultivated in warm season of KPK and Baluchistan. It can be grown in most of seasons in Karachi where summer temperature is high. Sangla Hill farm and JK farm are also producing mushroom in Punjab. Special training for cultivation of milky mushroom is started in horticulture department in UAF.
Milky mushroom can be developed on extensive variety of substrates as in case of oyster mushroom. It can be developed on substrates containing lignin, cellulose and hemicelluloses. Substrate ought to be fresh and dry. Substrates presented to rain or collected untimely (green shading) are inclined to different weed molds which may bring about disappointment of the harvest. It can be developed on straw of paddy, wheat, ragi, maize/bajra/cotton stalks and leaves, sugarcane bagasse, cotton and jute squanders, dehulled maize cobs, tea. Straw is chopped in little pieces (2-4cm size) and absorbed new water for 8-16 hours. This period can be lessened when pasteurization is to be finished by steam. Main purpose of soaking is to soak the substrate with water. It is easier to soak if straw is filled in polythene bags and dipped in water. For milky mushroom compost preparation is easy than button.
There are different steps for growing milky mushroom; preparation of media (substrate), killing of germs by hot air treatment, mixing of spawn in media, growing of spawn (mycelium), casing by soil, harvesting of mushroom. Spread 2 to 3 layers of spawn in bags at various levels. Some spawn is spread upper portion in polythene bag. It takes about 10 days for mycelium to reach on top of casing layer when fresh air is introduced while maintaining temperature and relative humidity above 85%. Light should be provided for long time. To avoid casing dryness, light spray water 2 to 3 times in a day. Floor of the room should be smooth and inclined enough to avoid standing of water. Room should be ventilated by exhaust fan and there must be wire gauge to control entrance of insects. The changes thus made in environment, result in the initiation of fruiting bodies within 3-5 days in the form of needle shape which mature in about a week. Mushrooms 7-8cm diameter are harvested by twisting, cleaned and packed in perforated polythene / polypropylene bags for marketing. Mushrooms can also be wrapped in kiln film for longer storage. 2 to 3 times harvesting is generally done. We can get 1 to 1.5 kg of mushroom from 2 kg of bag. It can be stored three to four days in normal temperature while we can keep it edible for 20 days in refrigerator.
Milky mushroom has now been started but its commercial production is challenge ahead. Due to lack of facilities we are facing its production problems. There is also need to introduce more types for heat tolerance in burning summer for continuous supply. If government starts project it can be helpful in creating awareness among people. It is urgent step to develop it in all season to satisfy the requests of the general population. So, it is need of the day to keep this step-in practice.
Mujahid Ali, Dr. CM Ayyub and Dr. M. Muzammil Jahangir
Institute of horticultural sciences, UAF