How are mushroom cultivated?
Steps Involved in Mushroom Cultivation
- Composting: Composting involves mixing of various components such as wheat or paddy straw, chicken manure and organic and inorganic fertilisers in a fixed proportion. The temperature of compost is maintained at about 50°C. The compost is kept undisturbed for about one week.
- Spawning: 'Mushroom seed' in the form of mycelium of the mushroom to be grown is introduced into the heap of compost and left for spreading for about two days.
- Casing: Casing is the most important step of mushroom cultivation. It involves spreading of a thin layer of soil over the compost. This provides humidity and support to the mushroom. It also serves to prevent the desiccation of the compost heap and helps in temperature regulation at about 20–25°C to forbid the growth of pests and diseases. The provision for circulating air around the compost bed should also be made.
- Cropping and harvesting: Three major growth stages are observed before mushrooms attain a fully grown form. First, the mycelium, i.e. a network of fibrous mass, spreads out in 2–6 weeks, followed by the tiny pin head stage and finally the button stage, which is marked by an increase in mushroom size, until it acquires marketable size.
- Preservation: Mushrooms have a very short shelf life. Processes such as vacuum cooling, bombardment by gamma radiation, followed by storage at 15°C, freeze drying in a solution of citric acid, ascorbic acid and brine etc. are used for the preservation of mushrooms.
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