Mushroom Farming



Mushrooms have been valued throughout the world as both food and medicine for thousands of years.  They are a rich source of nutrition and form a major chunk of health foods. Fats occur in mushrooms in minor amounts, especially compared with protein and carbohydrates, and the fatty fraction consists predominantly of unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid, they may be the perfect food for maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. Earlier Mushroom eating was restricted to specific regions and areas of the world but due to globalization, interaction between different cultures, growing consumerism has ensured the accessibility of Mushrooms in all areas. Mushrooms are increasingly gaining acceptance in different Cusines and in everday consumption. They have created a space in a common man’s kitchen. Also, current trend of consumption conveys the opportunity that lies in the area of mushroom exports.

The two most commonly grown species of mushroom in India are white Button mushroom and Oyster mushroom. Most of the production of white button mushroom in our country is seasonal. The cultivation is done using conventional methods. Usually, unpasteurized compost is used, hence yields are very low. However, in recent years, yield of mushroom has increased as a result of introduction of improved agronomic practices. Cultivation of the common white button mushroom requires technical skill. Apart from other factors, the system requires humidity, two different temperatures i.e. Temperature for spawn or vegetative growth (Spawn Run): 22-280C, for reproductive Phase (fruit body formation): 15-180, Humidity: 85-95% and enough ventilation during substrates that are sterilized are easily contaminated unless spawned under very aseptic conditions. Therefore steaming at 1000 C (pasteurization) is more acceptable.

Pleurotus is the scientific name for Oyster mushroom. In many parts of India, it is known as Dhingri. This mushroom includes many species e.g. Pleurotus ostreatus, P. sajor-caju, P. florida, P. sapidus, P. flabellatus, P. eryngii and many other edible species. Mushroom growing is an occupation requiring perseverance, patience, intelligent observation and a skill that can be developed only through intelligent experience.

Pleurotus mushroom requires a temperature of 20oC to 30oC, both for its vegetative growth (spawn run) and reproductive phase, i.e. for formation of fruit bodies. The suitable cultivation period at high altitude – 1100-1500 meters above mean sea level – is March to October, mid altitude – 600-1100 meters above mean sea level – is February to May & September to November and at Low altitude – Below 600 meters above mean sea level – is October to March.

Materials Required

1. Paddy Straw – Fresh golden yellow paddy straw free from moulds and properly stored in a dry place not exposed to rain.

2. Plastic Sheet of 400 gauge thickness – 1 sq. m. of plastic sheet is required for making one block.

3. Wooden Mould – Wooden Mould of 45X30X15 cms size each having no top or bottom but having a separate wooden cover 44X29 cms dimension.

4. Hand Chopper or Chaff cutter for cutting the straw.

5. Drum for boiling straw (minimum two).

6. Jute rope, coconut rope or plastic ropes

7. Gunny bags.

8. Spawn or mushroom culture– which can be obtained from the Office of the Assistant Pathologist, Mushroom Development Center for each block.

9. One sprayer.

10. Straw Storage Shed -10X8m size.


Compost Preparation

Agricultural by products like cereal straw (wheat, barley, paddy, oat and rice), maize stalks, hay, sugarcane bagasse or any other cellulose wastes can be used for compost preparation. Wheat straw should be freshly harvested, shining yellow in colour and should not have been exposed to rains. The straw should be in about 5-8cm long pieces, otherwise heap prepared by long straw would be less compact which may lead to improper fermentation. Conversely; too short straw makes heap too compact to allow enough oxygen to enter the centre of the heap and lead to anaerobic fermentation. Wheat straw or any of the above materials provide cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, which are utilized by the mushroom mycelium as the carbon source. These materials also provide physical structure to the substrate needed to ensure proper aeration during composting for the build up of microflora, which is essential for the fermentation. Rice and barley straw are very soft, degrade very quickly during composting and also absorb more water as compared to wheat straw. While using these substrates, care should, therefore, be taken on the quantity of water to be used, schedule of turnings and adjustment to the rate and type of supplements. Since the byproducts used in composting do not have adequate nitrogen and other components required for the fermentation process, compounding mixture is supplemented with the nitrogen and carbohydrates, to start this process.


Spawning is mixing of spawn infor optimum and timely yields. Optimum dose for spawn ranges between 0.5 and 0.75% of fresh weight of compost. Lower rates result in slow spread of mycelium and chances for diseases and competitors may increase. Higher rates may increase cost of spawning and very high rate of spawn sometimes results in unusual heating of compost.

The optimum temperature for growth of A. bisporus is 230 (+) (–) 20 C. Relative humidity in growing room should range from 85-90% during spawn-run.


Usually 3 to 4 days after opening the bags, mushroom primordia begin to form. Mature mushrooms become ready for harvesting in another 2 to 3 days. An average biological efficiency (fresh weight of mushrooms harvested divided by air-dry substrate weight x 100) can range between 80 to 150% and sometimes even more. To harvest the mushrooms, they are grasped by the stalk and gently twisted and pulled. A knife should not be used. The mushrooms remain fresh for up to 3 to 6 days in a refrigerator/cool place.

Mushroom house / rooms.

Cube preparing Room

An ideal room should have an R.C.C. floor, well ventilated and dried. An R.C.C. platform of 2 cms. height should be constructed inside the room for placing the wooden frame, for making cube and another R.C.C. platform, according to necessity for draining of pasteurized bags of straw. Only those materials needed for cube making are to be kept inside the room. Care should be taken to allow inside the room, only persons preparing the cubes.

Incubation Room

A room for spawn running. This room can be either an R.C.C. building or an Assam type room (i.e., any separate room in the house) and should be installed with shelves made of clean whole bamboo in three tiers for keeping the block. The first tier should be 100cms above the ground and the other tiers should be at least 60cms apart.

Cropping Room

An ideal house/room would be an R.C.C. building installed with proper insulation and provisions for heating and cooling the rooms. However, an indigenous low cost house has been recommended using locally available materials like bamboo, thatch and mud plaster. Walls of split bamboo plastered evenly with a mixture of mud and cow dung may be made.

In order to provide a crude insulation system, a second wall is made all around the house keeping about 15cms space between the first wall and the second. Mud plastering should be done on the outside of the outside wall. The air space in between the two walls will act as an insulator, since air is a bad conductor of heat. An even better insulation could be provided if the space between the walls is filled with well dried thatch. The floor of the house should preferably be of cement but where it is not possible, a well-beaten and plastered mud floor will suffice. However, more care will have to be taken in case of a mud floor. The roof should be made of thick thatch layers or preferably asbestos sheets. A false ceiling is essential to avoid contamination of unwanted materials from the thatch roof. Besides the front door, ventilators should also be provided from both the upper and lower sides of the front and the rear side of the room for proper exchange of air inside the room. The house/room should be installed /framed with horizontal and vertical bamboo poles required for hanging the block after the incubation period. The vertical poles can also be arranged in a 3 (three)-tier system as the incubation shelves. Poles should be preferably 60cms away from the walls and in between each row of three tiers, a minimum space of 1m should be maintained. A cropping room of 3.0 X 2.5 X 2.0 m will accommodate about 35 to 40 cubes.


Chop the straw either manually or mechanically into bits of 3-5cms in length and pack in gunny bags. Boil water in a drum. When the water start boiling, place the gunny bag along with the straw in the boiling water and boil as such for 15 to 20 minutes. Then remove the gunny bag from the drum and leave as such for 8 to 10 hrs. to drain the excess waters and also allow the straw to cool. Care should be taken that the bag is not open till the time of block making, as this will contaminate the boiled straw. The desirable moisture content of the straw can be tested by squeezing the straw in between the palms, and see that droplets of water do not trickle out from the straw.

Another method of pasteurization of the straw is by steaming. This method requires little modification of the drum. (Punch a small hole in the lid of the drum, and while boiling the straw, seal the surrounding of the lid with a rubber tube). The chopped straw should be previously wetted and excess water drained off. Place a few stones in the drum and pour water only at the level of the stones. Boiled the wetted straw by keeping it in a bamboo basket and place the basket over the stones inside the drum. Close the lid of the drum and seal the rim of the lid by means of a rubber tube. The steam generated from the boiled water will pass through the straw and pasteurize it. After boiling, transfer the straw into a previously sterilized gunny bag and leave it as such for 8-10 hrs. for cooling.

Take a wooden frame and place on a smooth floor. Place jute ropes, two vertically and one horizontally. Line the frame with a plastic sheet, previously sterilized by dipping in boiled water.

-     Fill approximately 5cms of boiled straw and compress it with the help of a wooden lid and sprinkle spawn over the whole surface.

-     After the first layer of spawning, put another 5cms of straw and again sprinkle spawn over the surface, compress it as in the first layer. In this way, continue to sprinkle spawn over the layer of straw for 4 to 6 layers till the straw is in level with the top of the frame. Only (1) one packet of spawn should be used for one cube or block.

-     The plastic sheet is now folded over the top of the frame and tied down with help of jute ropes previously placed below the plastic.

-     After tying, the frame can be removed and what is left behind is a rectangular block of straw.

-     Punch holes (2mm diameter) on all sides of the block for aeration.

-     Place the block in an incubation room, side by side in shelves in single layer only taking care that they are not place directly on the floor or on the top of each other as this will generate excess heat.

-     The temperature of the block should be maintained at 250 C. This can be noted by inserting a thermometer into the holes of the block. If the temperature rises above 250 C, it is advisable to aerate the room, and if the temperature falls, the room should be slowly heated up.

-     It takes 12 to15 days for the spawn to spread throughout the straw and when the entire block has been completely white, it is a sign that spawn running is over.

-     After spawn running, remove the ropes as well as the plastic sheet from the block. Tie the block vertically with coconut rope and hang it in a cropping room. From this stage onwards, the relative humidity of the room should not be less than 85%. This can be maintained by periodically spraying water on the walls and floor of the room. If it is a cemented floor, it is advisable to pour water on the floor so that water always remains on the floor. If the block shows signs of drying light, spraying can be done with the help of sprayer.

-     Within a week to 10 days, tiny pinheads will be seen on the surface of the block and these will grow into full-size mushrooms within a day or two.

-     When fruits bodies start forming, the requirement of air is increased. Therefore, once fruit bodies start forming, it is essential that there is an exchange of fresh air every 6 to 12 hrs, by opening the ventilator provided at the front and backside of the room.

-    The fruits bodies (mushrooms) are ready for picking just when the periphery of the caps starts turning upward. This will be evident as small crinkles appear on the side of the piles (cap). To harvest the mushrooms, take hold of the stripe (stalk) at the base with thumb and forefinger and with a gentle anti-clockwise twist, detach the mushroom from the straw without disturbing the straw or any small mushroom growing alongside. Do not use knife or scissors for harvesting. The block will again come to fruiting after about a week.


Mushrooms appear in flushes. About 2 to 3 flushes may be harvested from a single cube. The yield of the first flush is more and then gradually decreases, giving a total yield of 1.5 kg to 2 kg of fresh mushroom from one cube. Then the cube is discarded and dump in a pit situated far from the cropping room or can be used as manure in a garden or field.


Mushroom can be consumed fresh or may be dried. Since they are highly perishable in nature, it is necessary to preserve the product for further use or for distant marketing. The oldest and cheapest method of preserving oyster mushroom is by sun drying.

Hot air drying is effectively used, whereby mushrooms are dried in the equipment called “Dehydrator” (a locally designed equipment). Mushrooms are placed in wire netted racks fitted in a closed chamber and hot air (500 C – 550 C) is passed through the rack for about 7 to 8 hrs. After drying the mushroom, it can be stored in air-tight containers or sealed in poly bags for 6 to 8 months. After complete drying, the mushroom are reduce to about 1/13th of their fresh weight which may vary depending upon the variety. The dried mushroom can be easily re-hydrated when soaked in warm water.

Diseases and Pests

A number of diseases and pests may attack the mushroom crop if left un-cared.


1.   Green mould (Trichoderma viridae): It is the most common disease in oyster mushroom where green coloured patches are observed on cubes.

Control : Dip a cotton swab in formalin solution (4%) and scrapped off the affected area. If the fungus attacks more than half of the cube then the entire cube should be discarded. Care should be taken that the contaminated cube is burnt or buried in a place far from the cropping room to avoid re-infection.


2.    Flies: Scarid flies, Phorid flies, Cecid flies are found to be attracted to mushroom and odour of spawn. They lay eggs on the straw or mushrooms, and the larva emerging from them damage the crop. Larva feed on the mycelium, mushroom and penetrate inside the fruiting bodies making it unfit for consumption.

Control: To check entry of adult flies during the cropping period, screen the doors, windows or ventilators, if any with 30mesh nylon or wire net. Use fly-trap or repellent in mushroom house.

3.    Mites: These are very thin, small crawling insects that appear on the mushroom body. They are not damaging, but annoyed the grower when present in large numbers.

Control: Maintain a hygienic condition of the house as well as its surroundings.

4.    Slugs, Snails: These pests chew up portion of the mushroom which may later get infected with bacteria and affect the quality of the crop.

Control: Remove the pests from the cubes and kill them. Maintain hygienic conditions.

Other Pests

5.    Rodents: The attack by rodents is found mostly in low cost mushroom house (mud house). They eat the grain spawn and make holes inside the cubes.

Control: Use rat poison bait in the mushroom house. Burrow of rats should be close down with glass pieces and plaster.

6.    Ink caps (Coprinus spp.): It is a weed of mushroom that develop on the cubes before cropping begins. They subsequently disintegrate into a black sliming mass at maturity.

Control: Physical removal of Coprinus from the cube is the only control measure recommended.


“Prevention is better than cure” is the fundamental motto of mushroom growing since it is a very delicate crop and curative measures are often difficult. The mushroom itself being a fungus, when fungal diseases appear, it is often very difficult to control as the chemicals used against the disease may affect the mushroom itself. Thus, infinite care has to be exercised from the very start to discourage the entry of any foreign “germs” or contamination. The following precautions should not be over-looked :

The very first requirement in mushroom growing is sanitation and hygienic conditions. Most of the problems in mushroom growing arise due to improper hygiene:

1. The room where mushrooms are to be grown should be thoroughly washed and then whitewashed with lime. The floor should also be limed.

2. The surrounding of the house should be devoid of stagnant drains, shrubs and other weeds as these harbour harmful diseases and insect pests.

3. At the entry of every room, there should be a trough filled with 2% formalin solution, wherein the shoes or feet must be dipped before entering the room.

4. The workers should be clean and preferably wear clean overalls.

5. No trash or surplus straw etc. should be left around the house.

6. In case of contamination, the contaminated block should be remove to a spot well away from the house and buried in a pit or burnt.

7. At the end of every cropping process, the room should be washed again and white- washed and fumigated with formalin.

8. The plastic sheets should be washed thoroughly and then soaked in 2% formalin as a final wash and then dried out, after every lot is removed.

9. Any fallen bits of straw or mushroom should not be left on the floor of the room. Cleaning and cutting off of the base of the mushroom stalk should be done outside the growing room and properly disposed off.

10. Broken pieces of the mushroom stalk, while harvesting, should not be left on the blocks. If the stalk breaks, it should be removed entirely from the bed.

11. Clean straw is important for mushroom growing. While preparing the block, care should be taken that it is properly compressed. The more the compression, the better will be the spawn running.

12. Excessive moisture at any stage of growth is harmful. The environment should be damp but not wet. For this reason a sprayer with a very fine nozzle is advisable to avoid large droplets. Excessive moisture will invite unwanted contaminants, which will be a hindrance, and in many cases will be serious competitors to the mushroom spawn.

13. While raising the temperature of the room, when required, care should be taken that there is no sudden rise in temperature. The temperature should be raised gradually till it attains the required level.

14. When placing the block for spawn running do not place them on top of each other, otherwise this will generate excess heat. Place the blocks side by side in single layers only.

15. The block should not be left un-opened in the plastic for more than 24 hours after the spawn has completely impregnated the straw.

16. There should be gentle exchange of air in the room with fresh air. Wind current cause drying and formation of malformed mushroom.


The main focus of the project should be motivation, Training, Information dissemination, Technical and Financial assistance for preparation of culture/spawn cultivation, harvesting, storage, processing, packaging, marketing linkages with farmers to increase employment opportunities and generating income.

The project should include one or all of the following activities

1.  Awareness generation, motivation and involvement of farmers in cultivation of  Mushrooms.

2. The Project should target at providing technical training to women, small, marginal and landless farmers, rural youth etc.

3.  Providing technical and financial assistance to the farmers for developing Spawn/culture centers.

4. Information dissemination to the farmers, tribals about the market available for different varieties of Mushrooms. Identification and arrangement of suitable market for the collected produce.

5.  Conducting meetings/ seminars/ workshops for providing common platform for farmers and marketers.

6.  Documentation and publication of useful information concerning preparation of Spawn/culture, techniques of cultivation of various types of mushroom, their semi-processing and preservation, quality control packaging and marketing.

7.  Networking and collaboration among the various stakeholders dealing with Mushroom Cultivation and marketing.


Voluntary Organisation working in rural areas with a legal status of a society registered for 3 years under Societies Registration Act XXI, 1860 or any corresponding state Act or a Trust registered under Indian Trust Act, 1882 or the Charitable and Religious Trusts Act, 1920 will be eligible for financial assistance subject to the condition that:-

Ø      The VO should have a nationalised Bank or Post Office A/c for last three years.

Ø      The VO should be working in rural areas, even if the Hqrs. are in urban area.

Ø      The VO should possess Permanent Account Number (PAN) of Income Tax Department.

Ø      The VO should not be under funding restriction.

Criteria for project assistance:-

1)  The mushroom farming activities will be extended to the farmers in general and small and marginal farmers in particular by eligible and competent voluntary organizations, who will provide technical and supervisory support to the farmers.

2)  The project proposal should be short-term result oriented in nature, normally upto 1 to 2 years.

Preparation and submission of project proposal

The project proposal should be prepared on the lines of the format prescribed by CAPART. The objectives of the proposal should be precise and well defined indicating the likely benefits to be derived and specified the category of beneficiaries. The action programmes and methodology of implementation of the activities should be as detailed as possible and clear outlining the work allocation and time schedule of each activity. Two copies of the project proposal complete in all respects with organizational profile, Registration Certificate, certified photocopy of Memorandum and Bye-laws and, Audited Statement of Accounts, Annual Report, Bank/Post Office Accounts of last three years and Permanent Account Number of the Organization should be forwarded to CAPART’s Regional Committee for project costing upto 20 lakhs, and Budget above Rs. 20 Lakhs to the CAPART head Quarters New Delhi.


An average yield of 2 kgs per cube (45 X 30 X 15 cms ) are expected from a well maintained mushroom house, although in some cases, an average yield of 3 kgs per cube are obtained. The prevailing market rate of fresh Pleurotus mushroom range from Rs. 50/- to Rs. 60/- per kg and the present estimated overall cost of production is approximately at Rs. 25/-per kg. Hence the farmer obtains a 100% profit from Pleurotus mushroom cultivation

a) Infrastructure/equipment/materials:

300 sq.ft. thatched shed and erection of 6 tier : Rs. 10,000-00

bamboo racks- material support.

Cost of trays for mushroom beds and other     : Rs.  5,000-00

Covering materials.                                        : Rs.  15,000-00

Operational Costs

Cost of substrates (straws etc) per year         :7,000-00

Cost of plastic bags for packing products/year:1,500-00

Cost of Spawns/year                                    :6,000-00

Miscellaneous costs (Chemical etc.)   :           1,500-00



The Spawn Unit will prepare spawns and distribute to the 20 cultivators and collect/purchase their products for collective local marketing.  The expenses in this regard would be:

1.                  Infrastructure/equipment/materials:

i)     40’ x 10’ floor area shed @ Rs. 150/- per sq.ft:   60,000-00

ii)    A 22 liter pressure cooker    :                 40,000-00

iii)   LPG Gas cylinder & stove      :                9,000-00

iv)  Miscellaneous utensils/accessories     :    2,000-00



2.                  Operational Costs:

i) first Generation Spawns in glass glucose bottles:

FGS x 25 Cycles  = 200 FGS @ Rs. 70/-               :   “ 14,000-00

ii)         Tissue Culture in Glass Test Tubes – 3 Beds X 20 cultivators

= 60 Beds x 14 days per cycles

308 second generation spawns in polypropylene

pouches ( 104 Tissue Culture yearly x Rs. 100/-   :    “10,400-00

iii          Polypropylene bags @ Rs. 250 x 26 cycles            :     :” 6,500-00

Cost of 2800 Kg. Jowar/Wheat grains

required for culturing 26 cycles @ Rs. 10/- per Kg.

iv)        Cost of other chemical components &

miscellaneous expenses


A.           Capital Investment Credit Support:

1. The Beneficiaries:

Credit Investment Support to 20 identified

Beneficiaries @ Rs. 20,000/- per beneficiary  Rs. 4,00,000-00

(Rs. 20000/- x 20) vide illustration 4.3 above

2.   The Spawn Center:

Infrastructure costs, operational costs

and purchase credit capital as detailed           Rs. 2,10,900-00

under 4.3 above.                                          Rs. 6,10,900-00

B. Operational Grants:

1. Training for the identical 20 beneficiaries       Rs.   10,000-00

in scientific Topical Mushroom Cultivation

2. Salary for a Coordinator of the project @

Rs. 5000/- per month                                 Rs.   60,000-00

(Rs. 5000 x 12 months)

3. Technical & /Resource support from expert    Rs:   10,000-00

4. Administrative expenses 10% of the

total budget ( Communications, stationers     Rs.   87,600-00

and contributory establishment costs)

Grand Total Rs. 7,78,500-00

Project Proposal Components: -

The project proposal is prepared as per the ARTS guidelines.

The proposed activities and methodologies should be specified such as:

1.      Awareness Generation and Motivation

2.   Training

3.  Cultivation

·   Compost preparation

·   Preparation Of mushroom  House / Rooms-Cube Preparing Room /Incubation room/ Cropping  Room

·   Spawn /Culture

4.  Semi-processing/ Packaging

5.  Marketing

6.  Documentation and Publication

7.  Staff Salaries

8.  Travel/TA/DA

9.  Equipment

10. Contingencies/Unforeseen Expenses

9. Budget

(i) Infrastructure (shed etc.)

(ii) Equipment(trays,polythene bags ,cylinders,Drums etc)

(iii) Raw Materials and Supplies (Straw Chemicals etc).

(iv)Awareness and Training

(v) Salaries(Technical support/consultancy/supervisor/extension worker)

(vi) Processing  and Packaging

(vii)Marketing Linkage


(ix) Administrative Expenses

Resource Institutions

1.         Peermade Development Society

Peermade, Idukki,


2.         Himalaya Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization (HESCO)

Ghisarpadi, PO Mehuwala via Majra,

District Dehradun – 248001


3.         Mitra Niketan


Vallanad – 695543


4.         Indian Agriculture Research Institute

New Delhi.

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