Thinking about starting a mushroom farm... Here are a few things to note:

Choosing A Way to Grow

In Bags

If you choose to grow mushroom in bags, the good thing is most of these materials (PE bags, rubber bands, bag necks) are very cheap to get, even more so on a wholesale level. With each individual bag, you can easily measure how much you put in and how much you get out. Hanging bags can also help save space in smaller spaces.

However, do think about the labor required to get these started. If you make your own bags of substrate, the hard work is not in getting the bags but stuffing, closing, moving and stacking them. It is laborious and repetitive work. Some oyster mushroom farms have 1000s, 2000s or 10000s of these to get good yield. Unless labor costs are cheap in your country, it may take up a good portion in your margin.

On Logs

Growing mushroom on logs need a bigger space and may not be as space-efficient as bags. It is also hard and heavy work stacking and moving the woods around, especially if you're doing it outdoors or in the wintertime.

The big advantage however is that the log lasts for a long time, some 3-7 years until the wood decomposes. So you can re-use the same pieces multiple times for multiple flushes. No sterilization or substrate preparing is needed as the mushroom will digest the wood fiber inside.

The Infrastructure

In some mushroom farm designs, people have shelves where the mushroom bags stack upon each other. On cool days, this is okay. However, on hotter days, the close-together bags may heat up each other, creating a hotter environment than the mycelium would have liked.

Some growers notice that with lots of stacking like this, mycelium growth may stall. Meaning, they run 50% through the bag and stop. This affects yield and could also relate to an air exchange problem. So if you're doing this indoors and using bags, create some space between the bags so there's air flow and they won't heat each other up a lot.

To create a growing facility, it could be as simple as tiling dried coconut leaves together to create a cool, airing roof. The leaf roof creates a cool environment inside for the mushroom to grow. For the floor, you can use small stones to retain the humidity. Some just use the soil already on their area or cement and bottom water.

For the walls around, it could be tarps or nets. When starting out, some growers didn't even hook tarps for walls. They figured anecdotally that some blowing wind could affect the fruiting oyster mushroom, making them curved inwards.

A Consuming Outlet

As mushroom bodies contain lots of water, if it is not picked and sold fresh in the day, the shroom may lose moisture and lose weight. For some mushroom like paddy straw, if it is not picked early (at the egg-shape stage) the taste may not be as good. This could then lead to loss of value in sales and weight.

Like other produce, finding a consuming outlet for mushroom is a challenge. Sometimes, the mushroom flushes out all at once and we may not have them all sold in a day. Some farmers then hamper the growth of mushroom a bit by capping the bags so only some fruit out on some days.

With the extra mushroom, others choose to dry and sell them (like wood ear mushroom or snow fungi). It also increases the selling price and the preserving time. Some also pickle the shroom to create a new product and lengthen the storage time.

And to ease out the initial selling, marketing, find customers costs some farmers join mushroom growing clusters. Here they have more established shipping routes and post-grow services like packing, shipping, logistics. So if you're just starting out, find some local groups or associations (like Tanzania Mushroom Growers Association) in your area where you could connect, get help and share good resources with other growers.

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