Cornell CALS - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

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Indoor Production

Mushroom cultivation at scale

Indoor growing requires several chambers that moderate temperature, humidity, light, and air flow to maintain an environment ideal for one or more mushroom species. The spaces used to grow mushrooms can be as small as a closet to a retrofitted room, garage, or basement, to a modified warehouse or a building specifically designed for mushroom growing.

After substrates are inoculated with spawn (see "What are Specialty Mushrooms" page), the material must first be incubated for the first 4 - 8 weeks in a place with consistent temperatures ideally in the 65 - 70 F range. During this stage of growth, the mycelium grows through the substrate and takes hold, drawing energy and nutrition from it.

Once this stage is complete, fruiting can occur, usually by moving the container to another space and changing temperature, humidity, light, and air flow. As the chart below shows, each species has its own needs for successful cultivating through the fruiting stage.

The table below includes some of the most commonly grown, but are not the only possible species. The most common commercial species includes Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus), Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) , Lions Mane (Hericium spp.), Chestnut (Pholiota Adiposa), King Trumpet (Pleurotus eryngii), and Maitake (Grifola frondosa)  Each are a decomposing fungi that are grown on a varying recipe typically containing a base of sawdust or wood pellets and some type of higher nitrogen supplement. When starting out, its important to consider the local sources of materials you can obtain and experiment to determine the best mixture.

Mushroom Species Oyster Shiitake Lions Mane Chestnut King Trumpet Maitake
Difficulty EASY EASY EASY MEDIUM MEDIUM HARD
Substrate Straw, supplemented sawdust/wood pellets supplemented sawdust/wood pellets supplemented sawdust/wood pellets supplemented sawdust/wood pellets supplemented sawdust/wood pellets supplemented sawdust/wood pellets
Incubation

 

65 - 75 F

3 - 4 weeks

65 - 75 F

7 - 8 weeks

65 - 75 F

3 - 4 weeks

65 - 75 F

3 - 4 weeks

65 - 75 F

3 - 6 weeks

65 - 75 F

4 - 6 weeks

Fruiting Blue 45 - 70 F

White 55 - 75 F

Yellow 60 - 75 F

Pink 70 - 80 F

 

Most strains 55 - 75 F Most strains

50 - 65 F

60 - 70 F Lower temps

45 - 55 F

60 - 70 F

 

When thinking about growing mushrooms it is important to know that most businesses do not do the entire process of cultivation in-house. Depending on the mission and goals of a cultivator, the involvement in each of these processes may change. There are three different sectors of the commercial mushroom industry:

  1. Spawn production
  2. Block and bag production
  3. Fruiting and sales

Each of these three sectors can require completely different infrastructure, skill levels, and contacts to operate successfully. As the small-scale specialty mushroom industry grows, there continues to be more specialization and focus for individual businesses. Some producers decide to engage with all three steps, while often producers will purchase spawn from a supplier, produce blocks or bags from it (#2), and then fruit and sell mushrooms. A third option is to purchase ready-to-fruit blocks and focus on fruiting and sales alone.

 

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Our program is currently engaged in a multi-year research project to explore the various cost-benefits of various choices growers can make about the supply chain and production cycle. We will be building out and testing a simple until from a shipping container and comparing production strategies to help producers better understand what decisions count and what scales are most feasible. You can keep up to date on the latest by joining our email list as well as attending our monthly live webinar series.

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