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Mushroom Farming Information Guide For Beginners

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Mushroom Cultivation

General Description of Mushrooms

Mushroom is a fruiting body of a fungus whose Latin name is agaricus bisporus which consists of a stalk with an umbrella cap. It has two parts – a cap-like structure which is known as ‘Pileus’, which is attached to a thread-like structure known as ‘Mycelia’. This Mycelia helps to absorb nutrients from the soil, so it does not require sunlight for their growth.

Mushrooms are heterotrophic organisms (also known as lower plants) which lack chlorophyll and so it is not capable of photosynthesis and thus cannot make their own food. Fungi are the destructors of nature. They obtain their food as organic matter either by dead or living plants, saprophytically or symbiotically respectively.

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These are available in different sizes and shapes. Some have caps and stalks but some of the varieties do not have stalks, some varieties produce their fruit body under the ground.

Mushroom is very popular for its delicacy and flavour. It has a rich source of Vitamins, Proteins and Minerals and it is a very valuable diet for those suffering from diabetes and heart problems.

Mushroom production in India has increased 10 times during the last 15 years. The reason for this growth is due to improved cultivation and improved cultivation of varieties towards mushroom production and processing.

Mushrooms are an important horticultural cash. Its fruit is fleshy body, which develops on clay wood. This crop gives attractive profits as compared to other crops grown mainly in closed rooms. Mushrooms globally are worth 63 billion US dollars.

Mushroom production in the world is about 4 million tonnes per annum and it is increasing at the rate of 8-10 percent per annum.

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Types of Mushroom

In India there are mostly four types of Mushrooms that are cultivated. They are:

  1. White button mushroom
  2. Portobello mushroom
  3. Dhingri (Oyster) mushroom
  4. Paddy Straw mushroom

Of all these, White button mushrooms are the most popular and have a very high demand with an average price being 50-100 rupees per kg in the market.

Cultivation of Mushroom

Mushroom is a low budget crop which doesn’t require much care and investment for its growth. However, each type of mushroom requires different techniques for growing. Paddy straw mushrooms grow in temperatures ranging from 35 degrees to 40 degree Celsius. Button mushrooms grow in winter and oyster mushrooms are grown in northern plains. These mushrooms are grown on special beds called ‘compost beds’.

In India, Button Mushrooms are very popular and are highly demanded. So let us learn the cultivation process of this mushroom.

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Cultivation process of Button Mushroom

Cultivation of Button mushrooms is divided into 5 steps.

  1. Making Compost

Composting is done in the open, which is prepared on clean raised concrete platforms but should be covered to protect from rain. It is prepared by two methods namely natural and synthetic compost  in trays of dimensions 100×50×15 cm.

Synthetic Compost:

Synthetic compost uses wheat straw, bran (rice or wheat), urea, gypsum, Calcium ammonium nitrate or Ammonium sulphate as its ingredients. Firstly, the straw is chopped into 8 cm to 20 cm in length and then it is spread uniformly on the composting farm to form a thin layer of it and then it is drenched thoroughly by sprinkling water.

Further, all other ingredients are mixed with the wet straw and are heaped to form a pile.  These piles are turned in every four day, sprinkling water in each turn. In 3rd and 4th turn 10kg of Gypsum is added to per ton of compost and 10ml malathion in 5l water is sprayed in the final turn.

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Natural Compost:

Natural compost uses horse dung, wheat straw, poultry manure as its ingredients. Firstly, the wheat straw is chopped finely and is mixed with other ingredients and is then uniformly spread on the composting farm.

Then water is sprinkled on the surface and is heaped just like synthetic compost. Due to the fermentation process, the temperature of the heap increases and Ammonia gas is liberated giving an odour. This heap is turned in every 3 days, sprinkling water in each turn. In the 3rd and 4th turn of the heap, 25 kg gypsum is added to per ton of the compost and 10 ml malathion in 5 litre of water is sprayed in the final turn.

  1. Filling the Compost into trays

When the compost is ready it is dark brown in colour and smells like fresh hay with almost a neutral pH. The compost should not be too wet or too dry while it is filled into the tray, and the tray must be 15 to 18 cm deep. It should be made of softwood and must be provided with pegs so as to stack the trays one above the other with a sufficient amount of air gap in between.

  1. Spawning

Spawning is the process of sowing the mushroom mycelium into the compost beds. Spawning is done in two ways:

  • Scattering the compost on its bed surface in the tray
  • Mixing the grain spawn with the compost before filling it in trays

These trays are covered with some old newspaper sheets which are sprinkled with water to maintain moisture and humidity, stacked one above the other with 15 to 20 cm space in between.

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Temperature & Humidity during spawning

The room temperature should be maintained at 25 degree celsius and must be kept closed as no fresh air should enter the room during the period of spawn run. Humidity and moisture level should also be maintained by sprinkling water on the walls and floors of the room. The spawn run period lasts for 12 to 15 days and may take longer if the temperature is lower.

  1. Casing

A white cottony type of structure is grown when the spawn run is complete. Now the surface of the compost is covered with casing soil having a thickness of 3 cm. finely crushed and sieved rotten cow dung is mixed with garden soil to prepare the casing soil. The pH of the soil should be 7.5 to 7.8 and should be sterilized before adding to the surface of compost.

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The casing soil is sterilized with Formalin solution (500ml formalin in every 10l of water for 1 cubic metre of casing soil)  or by steaming. The casing stage requires a lot of fresh air and the temperature is maintained at 25 degree Celsius after the casing soil is spread on the compost, for 72 hours and then lowered to 18 degree Celsius.

  1. Cropping

Pinheads become visible after 15 to 20 days of casing. Within 5 to 6 days, small sized white buttons start developing in this stage and when the caps are shown as sitting tight on the stem, it is ready to harvest. If they are left longer, caps open like an umbrella and these open button mushrooms are considered as an inferior quality mushroom.

Harvesting & Yield

The cap of the mushroom is held gently with the forefingers, which is pressed against the soil and is then twisted off while harvesting. Some farmers chop them at the soil level for harvesting.

The average yield of button mushroom is 3 to 4 kg per tray and 6 kg in favorable condition.

Post Harvest

After harvesting, mushrooms are washed with 5g KMS solution in 10l water and are then packed in polythene bags after removing any excess water. The packaging also depends upon the market and customer demand

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Mushrooms should be consumed fresh after harvesting, but it can stay fresh longer for a maximum of one week, if it is stored in a refrigerator wrapped in a moist paper towel.

Pests & Diseases of Mushrooms


Mushrooms suffer loss of yield due to the growth of various insects and pests on the compost bed. The fruit body is even eaten by the rats along with grains.

The insects growing on mushroom beds are:

  • Springtails
  • Sciarid flies
  • Phorid flies
  • Coccids
  • Mites

 A Nematode namely Dactylanthus mycetophagus affects the growth of mycelia.

Rats eat the grain spawn and even damage the beds.

Control Measures of Pests

  1. Cleanliness should be maintained
  2. The compost and straw should not come in contact with soil
  3. The tools should be sterilized with 2% formalin solution
  4. Dichlorvos (Nuvan) should be sprayed to the soil @ 0.6ml/l
  5. Dico Feel should be sprayed @ 0.01% for control of mites.
  6. Rats should be killed and baited.


There are many fungal, bacterial and viral diseases that cause characteristic diseases to the mushrooms growing in their beds and affect their harvest.

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Fungal diseases

  • Dry bubble
  • Wet bubble

Bacterial diseases

  • Bacterial pit
  • Bacterial brown blotch

Viral diseases

  • Elongated bend stripes
  • Disintegration of mycelium

Along with these diseases there are some weed moulds which compete with the growing mushrooms and affect their yield. They are:

  • False truffles
  • White plaster mould
  • Ink cap


Mushrooms have a high nutritive and medicinal value which has increased awareness to the masses and has increased its cultivation. However, lack of awareness, shorter shelf life and its maintenance, unpredictable yield, are some of the limitations which become a hindrance in mushroom farming.

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Mushrooms have a bright future for farmers in India because it doesn’t require a lot of care and maintenance, or a high investment and technology. Also, it provides a good return as compared to the efforts or investments.

But everything has a flip side, so before starting mushroom farming, one should properly study about it and its technique of farming, and then proceed to large scale production.


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