Cornell CALS - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Specialty Mushrooms

Project Lead: Steve Gabriel, Yolanda Gonzalez

Specialty mushrooms are defined by USDA as any species not belonging to the genus Agaricus (button, crimini, portabella). The most common specialty mushrooms are shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and oyster (Pleuterous ostreatus), which represent the second and third most produced in the United States (USDA, 2017).

The Cornell Small Farms Program, with support from USDA-NIFA and USDA-SARE and alongside partners CCE Harvest NY, Fungi Ally, Farm School NYC, Just Food, and GrowNYC are engaged in a multi-year project to elevate and support diverse mushroom growers in the Northeast region.

We accomplish this by offering training events both in person and online, publishing cultivation and marketing factsheets, videos, and guidebooks, and offering technical support through our active grower email list. View our resources below and get in touch with your questions!

Project Partners

Cornell Mushrooms - Logo

Our project offers the leading extension resources for specialty mushroom cultivation on small farms in the United States. We are here to help you learn and grow.

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Sales of Specialty Mushrooms are on the rise (Fig. 1). In 2017, production of specialty mushrooms, grew by four percent from 2016 levels to 25.4 million pounds with a sales value of $96.2 million. While this represents a 9.6% increase from the previous year, there is still a high level of demand not being met. In 2017, specialty mushroom growers produced 26.1million pounds — a 5.5% average increase over the last five years. Yet in 2017, there were only 226 growers commercially producing specialty mushrooms the United States (USDA, 2017).

Demand for specialty mushrooms is rapidly rising, as consumers look to purchase more foods that are healthy, nutritious, and medicinal. United States per capita consumption of all mushroom species was only 0.69 lbs. in 1978, but by 1999, averaged 4 lbs. per capita.

Building a viable small farm enterprise requires two parts; the technical aspects of production and business planning. We help you develop both to meet your goals for production through factsheets and articles, guidebooks, videos, and opportunities to connect with other growers, industry suppliers, and more.

Research at Cornell over the last decade has focused on the cultivation of four species: shiitake, lions mane, oyster, and stropharia in outdoor settings. We have recently expanded our resources to include more on indoor cultivation methods, as well. We are here to help! See our resources at this website, and get in touch.

News and Updates

Agroforestry in Practice: a 3-day training for Service Providers

By Steve Gabriel | September 27, 2017

Agroforestry in Practice: 3-day training for Service Providers October 17, 18, and 19, 2017 Montour Falls, NY at the Schuyler County Cooperative Extension Agroforestry is the science and art of…

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CCE Chenango Begins Work on Statewide Value Added Forest Products Initiative

By Tara Hammonds | April 3, 2017

Farmers and woodland owners have opportunities to generate income from their woodlands. by Rich Taber CCE Chenango has received a grant from the New York Farm Viability Institute “Increased Farm…

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Learn to grow mushrooms at 11th Annual Camp Mushroom

By Steve Gabriel | January 15, 2016

June 3 – 4 Hidden Valley Camp, Watkins Glen NY Friday 5 – 9pm, Saturday 9 am – 4pm Camp Mushroom is Cornell University’s annual two-day event for farmers, woodlot…

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Steve is an Extension Specialist focused on specialty mushroom production and agroforestry. Throughout his career, Steve has taught thousands of people about the ways farming and forestry can be combined to both benefit the ecology and economies of small farms.  He is also a farmer, author, hiker, and musician.

Read Articles by Steve Gabriel