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Mushroom Production

Course CodeBHT310
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


Learn to Grow Mushrooms
 
The most commonly grown mushrooms are Agaricus (The Champignon); but there are lots of other edible fungi that are increasingly grown and eaten today. This course deals with lots of types, but concentrates on Agaricus.  
  • Growing, harvesting, marketing, storage, pest and diseases and even ways of cooking and using mushrooms are all covered.
Hundreds have completed this course over the years; some who worked on mushroom farms, some have been restraunt chefs seeking a reliable supply of high quality and different varieties; others have heen budding entrepeneurs starting up a new enterprise, or farmers looking to diversify. Whatever your reason for growing mushrooms, we can help.
staff have been teaching this course, and gathering information on mushroom cultivation for over 25 years. When you study this course you will have support from a team of academics that have access to information and experience that is not readily accessible elsewhere.

 

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • How Fungi are Named: Review of the system of plant identification
    • Characteristics of all Fungi
    • Three Fungi Kingdoms: Zygomycota, Basidiomycota and Ascomycota
    • Agaricus campestris and Agaricus bisporus
    • Review of significant edible fungi including; Coprinus fimetaris, Flammulina velutipes, Letinus erodes, Pleurotus, Stropharia, Volvariella,Auricularia auricula
    • Synonymous Names
    • Distinguishing edible fungi, Mushroom structure, tell tale characteristics of the genus Agaricus, etc.
    • History of Mushroom Cultivation
    • Commonly Cultivated Edible Fungi
    • Agaricus bisporus, Agaricus bitorquis
    • Coprinus fimetarius
    • Flammulina velutipes
    • Kuehneromyces mutabilis
    • Lentinus edodes Shiitake.
    • Pholiota nameko
    • Pleurotus spp "Oyster Mushroom"
    • Stropharia rugosa annulata
    • Volvariella volvaceae Edible Straw Mushroom.
    • Auricularia spp
    • Tremella fuciformis
    • Tuber spp.
    • Tricholoma matsutake
    • Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi)
    • Grifola frondosa (Hen of the woods, Maitake)
    • Resources, information/contacts
  2. Mushroom Culture
    • Options for obtaining Spawn
    • Steps in Growing Agaricus species: Preparation, spawning, casing, harvest
    • What to Grow Mushrooms in; growing medium
    • Growing media for different edible fungi: Agaricus, Auricularia, Copreinus, Flammulina, Letinus, Pleurotus, Volvariella, etc
    • Understanding Soil and Compost, components and characteristics
    • Acidity and Alkalinity
    • Making Compost
    • Making Mushroom Compost, and mushroom compost formulations
    • Moisture Level in Compost
    • Cultivation of Agaricus bitorquis
    • Cultivation ofCoprinus fimetarius
  3. Spawn Production and Spawning
    • Finding Spawn Supplies
    • Overview of Spawn and Spawning
    • Obtaining Smaller Quantities of Spawn
    • The Process of Spawning
    • Spawn Production; typical rye grain method
    • Storing spawn
    • Problems with Spawn
    • Using Spawn
    • Comparing tewmperature conditions for spawning and fruiting in most commonly cultivated edible mushroom species
    • Cultivation of Pleurotus
    • Cultivation of Stropharia
  4. Making and Casing Beds
    • Growing Methods; Caves, bags, houses, outdoor ridge beds, troughs, etc
    • Casing; biological process, characteristics of casing material, procedure
    • Techniques; spawned casing, ruffling, scratching
    • Review Auricularia and Volvariella
  5. Growing Conditions for Mushrooms
    • Fungi Nutrition: carbon, nitrogen, essential elements, vitamins and growth factors
    • Casing to Harvest of Agaricus
    • Growing Indoors
    • Components of a Built System and Determining Your Needs
    • Factors Influencing Fungal Growth
    • Environmental Control, equipment to measure and control the environment
    • Siting a Growing House
    • Managing the Growing House or Room, cleanliness, heating, cooling, humidity, etc
    • Review of Tuber (Truffle) and Tremella
  6. Pests, Diseases and Growing Mushrooms Outside
    • Overview of Pests, Diseases and Environmental Disorders
    • Prevention of Problems
    • Review of Bacterial and Fungal Diseases and their Control
    • Review of Insect Pests, Mites, Nematodes and their Control
    • Weed Moulds
    • Safe, Natural Sprays
    • Summary of Problems found on Agaricus bisporus and other edible fungi covered in this course
    • Cultivation of Flammulina velutipes and Kuehneromyces mutabilis
  7. Harvesting, Storing and Using Mushrooms
    • Harvesting Buttons, Cups and Flats on Agaricus bisporus
    • Fruiting patterns for Agaricus bisporus and other edible mushrooms
    • Cool Storage of Mushrooms
    • Freezing Mushrooms
    • Dry Freezing Mushrooms
    • Drying Mushrooms
    • Canning Mushrooms
    • Harvesting Agaricus; method of picking
    • Handling Agaricus after harvest
    • Controlled Atmosphere Storage
    • Cultivation of Letinus (Shitake), Pholiota, Tricholoma
  8. Marketing of Mushrooms and Special Assignment
    • Review of Marketing options for mushrooms
    • Fresh Mushroom Sales
    • Processed Mushroom Sales
    • Production and Marketing of Shitake, Oyster Mushroom and Straw Mushroom
    • Research and Determination of Marketing Opportunities and Strategies in Your Region

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Classify different varieties of fungi which are commonly eaten
    • Determine the techniques used in the culture of edible mushrooms
    • Explain the harvesting of a mushroom crop
    • Explain the post-harvest treatment of a mushroom crop
    • Explain marketing strategies for mushrooms

What You Will Do

  • Compare the scientific with common definitions for a Mushroom
  • Explain the classification, to genus level, of ten different commercially grown edible fungi
  • Produce a labeled illustration of the morphological characteristics which are common to different edible fungi of the genus Agaricus
  • Compare the physical characteristics of different commercially cultivated edible fungi
  • Distinguish edible Agaricus mushrooms from similar, inedible fungal fruiting bodies
  • Compile a resource file of sources of information regarding edible fungi, including: *Publication *Suppliers *Industry associations/services
  • Determine the preferred conditions for growing two different specified mushroom genra
  • Describe the stages in the growing of Agaricus mushrooms
  • Develop criteria for selecting growing media, for different genra of edible fungi; including Agaricus
  • Describe an appropriate compost for growing of Agaricus bisporus
  • Explain how spawn is produced for different genra of edible fungi
  • Explain the use of casing in mushroom production
  • Compare different methods of growing edible fungi, in your country, including where appropriate: *Outdoor beds *In Caves *In buildings *In trays *In bags *In troughs
  • Describe different pests and diseases of mushrooms
  • Describe appropriate control methods for different pests and diseases of mushrooms
  • Analyse hygiene and exclusion regimes used in mushroom production
  • Prepare a production plan, based on supplied specifications, for Agaricus bisporus, including: *Materials required *Equipment required *Work schedule *Cost estimates
  • Grow a crop of Agaricus bisporus
  • Identify the stages at which Agaricus mushrooms can be harvested
  • Explain how mushrooms are harvested
  • Develop guidelines to minimise damage to two different types (i.e. genra) of mushrooms during and immediately after harvest
  • Describe ways to extend the shelf life of two different mushrooms crops
  • Explain different techniques for processing mushrooms
  • Produce dried mushrooms from fresh ones
  • Analyse industry guidelines for the post-harvest handling of a specified mushroom variety
  • Determine the different ways mushrooms are packed for retailing
  • Outline industry generic marketing strategies for mushrooms
  • Suggest strategies for marketing a separately identified mushroom product (e.g. branded, regional)

GROWING MUSHROOMS 

Commercial mushroom production of Agaricus bisporus (Common mushroom) has been a small but significant part of the horticulture industry for a long time. In times past mushrooms were mainly grown out of doors on compost heaped into beds in dark places (eg. disused railway tunnels or caves).

Over recent decades, there has been considerable change in both the scale of production and the methods used producing mushrooms. Mushroom production has become increasingly sophisticated; and the science and technique applied to growing mushrooms has increased and resulted in greater productivity.

Mushroom growing today generally requires a high level of investment in insulated buildings and temperature control equipment, humidity and ventilation equipment, among other technologies. With sophisticated, highly controlled growing environments, pests, diseases and other disorders are controlled in the large scale mushroom growing operations, giving a much higher quality product, and less risk than was seen earlier.

While Agaricus remains the most widely cultivated mushroom, a greater diversity of mushrooms have been grown over recent years. Straw mushrooms, Oyster mushrooms and many others are becoming increasingly popular, both in the gourmet food industry, and more widely. The demand for mushrooms has expanded greatly throughout much of the world over recent decades.

In 1985 there were approximately 80 commercial mushroom farms in Australia, producing around 14 million kg of mushrooms. Around 2010 the UK production levels were over 90,000 tonnes per year.  

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Will this course help me grow different types of mushrooms?

A. Yes.  If you learn about Agaricus, you have a foundation that can be applied to growing a range of other mushroom species. Sections of the course also outline other species. The school has also collected some unique resources on mushroom culture over more than 20 years including rare books that are now out of print. Students who have interests in specific types of mushrooms beyond Agraricus, can be provided with extra information on their specific area of interest, on request.

Q.  What Equipment do I need?

A.  The course can be completed without any substantial extra cost. Availability of equipment and spore to grow mushrooms on a small or large scale can sometimes be a problem; but it is always possible to improvise with guidence from your tutors.

Q.  How easy is it to set up and grow mushrooms on a small scale for my own use?

A. If you know and understand mushroom culture, it can be relatively easy in most places. On a small scale, it can often be more viable to grow mushrooms using proprietory kits.

Q. How easy is it to grow mushrooms on a larger commercial scale?

A. No more difficult than other commercial crops. Production tends to be more intensive though. You don't need to spend so much on land, but you often need to spend more on other things (eg. buildings, environmental controls and high quality compost). 
 
 

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