Almond mushrooms grown by the peroxide method.

Mushroom Growing
Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Can morels be cultivated? How can I grow them?
  • I want to grow chantrelles, Boletus edulis, matsutake, or truffles. How can I do it?
  • I want to start a mushroom growing business. How feasible will it be?
  • I live in a hot climate. What mushrooms can I grow?
  • How long does it take to grow mushrooms?
  • What books are there that tell how to grow mushrooms?

  • Can morels be cultivated? How can I grow them?

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    Yes, mushroom growers have worked out ways to cultivate morels, but these mushrooms are still among the most difficult to grow, at least in any quantity. If you are determined to grow them indoors, there is a procedure posted on this page. It is quite complicated. For outdoor growing, some companies are selling morel "kits." With these, you prepare an outdoor space according to specifications and inoculate with morel spawn. Then, if you are lucky and weather conditions cooperate, you may see morels the following season. Agar cultures of morel mycelium and morel spawn can both be prepared by the peroxide method following the same procedures used for other mushrooms. Morel spores germinate very quickly, and the mycelium grows faster than virtually any other mushroom mycelium, covering an agar plate in 3 days or so. But the difficulty with morels is getting the mushrooms to form.


    I want to grow chantrelles, Boletus edulis, matsutake, or truffles. How can I do it?

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    All of these species require association with a live tree to produce mushrooms, which makes them poor candidates for cultivation. Of these four, only chantrelles have been grown "in captivity," and then only by heroic measures which the hobbyist will not likely duplicate. There is also little evidence that any of the first three of these species can be deliberately introduced into a chosen outdoor plot where they are not already growing, either by spore slurries or mycelial transfer. The one exception is truffles, where tree seedlings have been successfully inoculated with spores from European truffles, and the trees have been grown to maturity in the US, eventually producing truffles. (For information on acquiring truffle tree seedlings, visit www.truffletrees.com.) There is also some indication that Oregon white and black truffles can be introduced into suitable groves of Douglas fir trees by spore slurry inoculation. But because of unsuitable weather conditions for truffle growth in Oregon recently, it may be a number of years before this possibility can be clearly confirmed or disproven.


    I want to start a mushroom growing business. How feasible will it be?

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    The business of mushroom growing is not a simple one. Although it is easy to grow a few mushrooms for home consumption, it is far more difficult to grow a large number of mushrooms for commercial sale. The reasons include problems of maintaining reliable supplies of substrates and supplements, regulating climate and ventilation, excluding insects and rodents, keeping equipment functioning, dealing with waste, excluding contaminants, maintaining production schedules, keeping stock cultures healthy and viable, and managing space requirements, among others. And even if you succeed in growing the kind of crop you need to make money, you may run into other obstacles like high insurance prices and unreliable markets. So, to be successful at mushroom growing, you need to be determined and you need to be good at improvising and solving problems. For more on the business of mushroom growing, visit the web site of the Mushroom Growers' Newsletter.


    I live in a hot climate. What mushrooms can I grow?

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    There are several commonly cultivated strains of mushrooms that grow well in hot weather. The Paddy Straw mushroom, Volvariella volvacea and its close relative Volvariella bombecina, grow best at temperatures between 75 and 95 degrees F (24-35 degrees C). The medicinal Reishi mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum, prefers warm weather (75 degrees F/24 degrees C), and the Florida oyster, a strain of Pleurotus ostreatus, fruits at temperatures above 75 degrees F (24 degrees C). The almond mushroom, Agaricus subrufescens, is a warm grower, although the mycelium should not get above 90 degrees F. The King Stropharia, Stropharia rugosa-annulata also fruits only when temperatures rise. Beyond that, there may be mushrooms native to your area that people are cultivating. Ask around!

    Although these mushrooms can all do well at warmer temperatures, remember that they all still need significant humidity.


    How long does it take to grow mushrooms?

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    The answer to this question depends on several things, including the stage of mushroom growing you want to start with, the method of inoculation, the temperature, the kind of substrate you are using, the mushroom species, and the specific mushroom strain. Starting at the very beginning, mushroom spores can take from a few hours to several days to germinate. A culture of mushroom mycelium growing on a petri dish of nutrient agar can take 24 hours (for morels) to upwards of a month (for Agaricus species and Stropharia Rugosa-annulata, for example) to spread across the better part of the plate. Using a chunk of agar culture to inoculate small jar of spawn, it can take 2-4 weeks for the spawn to reach maturity (1-2 weeks if you inoculate the spawn with other spawn). If you start with a quantity of spawn and fresh bulk substrate, it takes about two to three weeks for standard oyster mushrooms to reach fruiting stage, and a similar length of time for Lions Mane (although I prefer to incubate them longer before letting them fruit), whereas the Elm Oyster takes six weeks, and shiitake can take longer. (This all can be accomplished more quickly using liquid inoculation techniques). If you start with a ready-made kit, already grown-through with mushroom mycelium, it can take from a week to a month for mushrooms to form, depending on the species. (Thicker, fleshier mushrooms tend to form and mature more slowly than others.) In general, of course, the more optimum the substrate, the temperature, and any other relevant growing conditions, the faster the mushroom mycelium and the forming mushrooms will grow.


    What books are there that tell how to grow mushrooms?

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    Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms

    Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, 3rd Edition by Paul Stamets. This new edition of Stamets's definitive text has been expanded by over 150 pages compared to the 2nd edition. Covers cultivation of 31 species, from oyster mushrooms (several chapters) to shiitake to portobellos. This is the best available book on cultivating wood decomposing mushrooms by traditional (that is, non-peroxide) methods.

    The Mushroom Cultivator

    The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home, by Paul Stamets and J.S. Chilton. This book is somewhat dated, but still the best reference available on growing Agaricus and other compost-loving species by traditional methods.
    Shiitake Growers Handbook : The Art and Science of Mushroom Cultivation by Paul Przybylowicz and John Donoghue. If you are going to grow shiitake mushrooms, you should definitely have this book in your collection.


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    This document is Copyright: ©1999 by Randall R. Wayne, Ph.D. All commercial rights are reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or used for sale in any form or by any means without permission of the author.