Well there are not much secrets to mushroom growing, I believe mushroom growing is both an art and a science. I have seen many growers try to reinvent the wheel. I will pursue the topic of secret of mushroom growing in the future but today I just want to say mushroom growing is the science of eliminating contamination.
Contamination does so many things on a farm I will just mention a few today.
i) Reduces yield: contamination reduces yields like in a conventional farm people remove weeds as these compete for nutrients with the desired crop, so contamination are fungi or bacteria competing with your mushroom mycelia for nutrients, so I will call contamination “weeds”. Eliminate “weeds” or at least keep the percentage low, besides reducing yields contamination can wipe out the whole crop before you even harvest, so watch out, green mold is our top enemy which at times start disguised as mushroom mycelia, it takes an experienced farmer to identify green mold in its initial stages unless it just start off green.
ii) It affects future crops: once there is an outbreak of contamination then you are sure it will always recur and affect future crops, how you dispose contaminated media is crucial, the best is to sterilize the media before dumping, cleaning the rooms is key to its total elimination .
iii) Slows down growth: some contamination slows down growth in such cases its usually not visible to the naked eye such that growers will not even know there is contamination, this will effect on yields eventually Whatever you do keep the “weeds” out and be profitable
How to start growing mushrooms?
So many people call me wanting to start mushroom growing most of whom due to folklore think that you can “plant” mushrooms today and then start harvesting the following day or that it’s an easy thing to do. If you think of growing mushrooms get training and the best is to get a consultant who can take you through all the stages. It takes a lot of reading to be a good farmer. Then there are those who do not want to pay training and consultancy fees and go it alone, my experience tells me 99% of them fail. There are some who request to come and visit and see how I do it, I have been too generous I allow them to take a farm walk most of the ones who visited me will go quite and never call me, I guess for two reasons a) some just hear mushroom growing and think its easy, so when they see what it takes they give up b) some when they visit and see how we are doing it, go and do it on their own and I know most just have the first crop and give up. It takes innovation, creativity and commitment to study. My advice for now is online “how to” articles are good but they need to be adapted to the local environment and conditions. I know many people try to cut corners and get training from inexperienced trainers- that’s also a good recipe for failure. In my future doses I will write how to grow mushrooms type by type,Whatever you do keep it profitable.
Cashflow challenges for mushroom growers
The talk these days in Zimbabwe is liquidity challenges facing all industries in the country, well this is not an economics blog, will just touch on economics in one way or the other, I know mushroom growers are no exception to this challenge especially taking into consideration that over 90% of sales are credit sales mainly to supermarkets and hotels. At Mushtella we believe in helping you solve challenges of cash flow in various ways, first we have done research into low cost production systems so that the price gets lower, we have different packages to suit all your needs depending on your cash flow. You don’t have to stop spawning because you don’t have spawn, our prices are now ranging from $1.80 – $3 per kg send me refer to our brochure for details or call me for details, $ 3 is for those buying on terms our packages are very flexible taking into consideration of the liquidity challenges. May all growers note that all orders are subject to a 50% deposit. Our spawn is not only limited to those in Zimbabwe but we also export.