Mushrooms: Although mushrooms are classified as vegetables but mushrooms belong to the kingdom Fungi and are actually fungi which bear a distinctive fruiting body and they are large enough to be seen with naked eye and can be picked by hand. Some mushrooms may be unpleasant and tasteless, but mushrooms of many species are edible and are delicious and also nutritious. Mushrooms are good source of Protein, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Folate, Iron, Zinc and Manganese. They also contain Vitamin D, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Selenium. The good thing about mushrooms is that they contain low Saturated Fat and Sodium and they are also very low in Cholesterol. They are helpful for human health and have, many health benefits.
Health Benefits of Consuming Mushrooms: Many studies conducted regarding the possible health benefits of consuming naturally grown foods like mushrooms have proposed that enhancing the consumption of mushrooms reduces the risk of obesity ,diabetes , heart diseases and overall death –rate and boosts face coloring and,hair,overall lower weight and increased energy.
Mushrooms contain good amounts of anti-oxidants like carrots, tomatoes, beans and green peppers and are very beneficial in preventing the deadly cancer.
According to studies, mushrooms have been found beneficial in preventing both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation a man should consume 30-38 g mushrooms/day and a woman should consume 20-25 g mushrooms /day.
Wild Edible Mushrooms: Following are the mushrooms which are found wildly and can be used for eating purpose:
Important Wild Edible Mushrooms found in Pakistan: Following mushrooms grow wildly in Pakistan
Black Morels: Morchella Species
Khumbi: Podaxis pistilllaris
Khappa: Phellorina inquinance
Khamiri: Agaricus bitorquis
Important Cultivated Mushrooms:
Button Mushroom: Agaricus species
Oyster Mushroom: Pleurotus species
Shiitake Mushroom: Lentinus edidodes
Straw Mushroom: Volvariella volvacea
Wood ’ear Mushroom: Auricularia species
Winter Mushroom: Flammulina velutipes
How to Grow Mushrooms: Mushroom Growing Steps
Composting: The compost is the main source of the required nutrients for the growth of mushrooms and it provides nutrients needed by mushrooms. The basic purpose of making the compost is to make a medium with enough amounts of nutrients and also to exclude the competitor organisms. Two types of compost are commonly used for making mushroom compost i-e least expensive wheat straw with horse manure and synthetic compost. Synthetic compost is the compost in which horse manure is not included. Nitrogen supplements are added in both types of compost and also gypsum which works as a conditioning agent.
The ingredients are piled in a rectangular shape with loose center and tight edges. First of all the ingredients of the compost are mixed and wetted with water. Water is sprayed over the horse manure or synthetic compost. Nitrogen supplements and gypsum are dispersed over the top of the ingredients and are thoroughly mixed with the turner. Compost is prepared as a result of microbial decomposition. Once water is added the microbes present in the compost becomes active. Nutrients are added to increase their growth. Supplements which are added to the compost provide carbohydrates and nitrogen for the microbial activity.
A turner is also needed for the turning of the compost pile in order to aerate it in an efficient way. Turing can also be done by hands using pitchforks, but it is labor intensive. Adequate moister, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbohydrates are essential throughout the whole process, otherwise the process will stop. Therefore water and supplements are added at regular time intervals and also it is aerated with regular turning.
Pasteurization: There are two main purposes of doing pasteurization. Pasteurization is essential to kill any insects, nematodes, pest fungi or other pests that may be present in the compost and second it is also done to remove the ammonia which is formed during Composting. Ammonia concentration higher than 0.07 at the end of composting is harmful for mushrooms therefore its concentration should be kept low.
1- Hot Water Treatment: Pasteurization can be done by hot water treatment. In this method wheat or paddy straw is treated with hot water at a temperature of 65± 5 °C for 10 mins- 1 Hour. The excess water is drained off and thrown away.
2-Steaming: Sterilization can also done by steaming in drums which is more beneficial due to low cost. Steaming is done at 100°C. Steam is applied to the bags for 1-2 hours depending upon the volume and the substrate.
3-By using Steam Generator: In this method substrate is filled in bags or containers and are kept in a room. Steam is created by the Steam generator and bags are kept at 58-60 °C for 4-6 Hours.
Spawning: The seed which is required to grow Mushrooms is called spawn and mixing of spawn with substrate is called Spawning. The substrate should be inoculated with the spawn after the heat treatment and its temperature is reduced to 20-25 °C. Spawning can be done by two methods
1-Thorough Spawning: In this method spawn is mixed throughout the substrate.
2-Suface Spawning: I this method spawn is not mixed but it is placed on top of the substrate. It is used for bag cultivation.
A complete spawn running usually takes 14-21 days.
Casing: Casing is a top dressing of the compost is done in which the mushrooms grow eventually. For casing clay-loam soil from field, mixture of peat moss with limestone or reclaimed compost can be used. Casing act as a water reservoir therefore it does not need the nutrients. It is a place where rhizomorphs (Hyphae) develop. Hyphae are string like structures which form when the very fine mycelium fuses together. Casing must be sterilized so that it may not carry any insects or pathogens.
Pinning: Mushroom initials are formed when Rhizomorphs (hyphae) have developed in the casing. When the initial quadruples in size it is called a pin. When the carbon dioxide concentration of room is lowered to 0.08 % by introducing fresh air from outside, pins develop. Harvestable mushrooms are formed 18-21 days after casing. The timing of fresh air introduction is very important and generally it is best to ventilate the room as little as possible until the mycelium has begun to at the surface of the casing.
Cropping: Fruit -body formation occurs as soon as the substrate is filled with the growth of mycelium. This is called fructification or cropping. During cropping air temperature should be 57-62 °F for good production of mushrooms. The optimum temperature for fruit-body development of different Pleurotus species should be between 16-26 °C. The relative humidity in the growing rooms should be high enough so that the casing may not dry out but not so high that the caps of mushrooms appear sticky. Desired relative humidity during pin-head formation should be 90-95 %. It should be reduced to 80-85 % during the development of fruit-bodies Water should be applied to the casing 2-3 times each week.
Ventilation is necessary for growth of mushrooms. Temperature and relative humidity also paly very important role. Moisture can be added to the air by a cold mist, live steam or simply by wetting the walls and floors. Moisture can be removed from the room by : 1) Allowing a greater volume of outside air 2) Putting in drier air 3) Moving the same amount of outside air and heating it to a higher temperature because warmer air holds more moisture and thus relative humidity is lowered.
Mushroom Prices in Pakistan:
Morchella conica : 500-700 Rs / Kg
Morels: 500-700 Rs/ Kg
White Button Mushroom: 500-700 Rs/ Kg
Albert Mushroom: 1000-2000 Rs /Kg
Dried black Morel Mushroom : 180 $ / Kg
Conclusion: As the prices mentioned above are high per Kg of Mushrooms. So therefore if it is adopted as a business, then it is very profitable business for farmers.
Manzoor ul Hassan
B.Sc. (Hons ) Agricultural Sciences
Institute of Horticultural Sciences,
University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan
Manzoor ul Hassan*, Mubashir Abbas1, Syed Ikram Ali Shah2
Author * Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture Faisalabad
1 &2 Co- Authors, Center of Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology (CABB), University of Agriculture Faisalabad