7 Factors Affecting Mushroom Cultivation

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Mushroom cultivation is a complex process that is affected by various factors. These factors include temperature, pH, light, humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2), moisture, and oxygen. 

Mushroom cultivation is the process of growing mushrooms for consumption or medicinal purposes. It involves growing mushrooms in a controlled environment to ensure optimal growth and yield. Mushrooms are a popular food item and are also used for their medicinal properties. Mushroom farming is an important industry and is practiced in many countries.

Mushroom cultivation can be done using various techniques, including indoor and outdoor farming. Indoor farming involves growing mushrooms in a controlled environment, while outdoor farming involves growing mushrooms in natural environments. A typical mushroom farm consists of growing rooms, spawn production and storage, and packing and shipping areas.

At every stage in the mushroom cultivation process, the environment must be carefully controlled to prevent the development of infectious diseases and inhibited crop growth. 

Mushroom Life Cycle

Before we go into the factors that affect mushroom cultivation, it’s important to know the four different life stages before the mushroom is ready to be sold/consumed.

  • Stage 1: Spores
  • Stage 2: Hyphae
  • Stage 3: Mycelium
  • Stage 4: The Hyphal Knot

Another term you should know is “primordia formation”, more commonly as “baby mushrooms”. This process occurs after the mycelium condenses into hyphal knots. During primordia formation, the mushroom produces enzymes so that it can develop its fruiting body. 

What Affects The Cultivation Of Mushroom Farming?

Mushroom cultivation is a complex process that is affected by various factors. Understanding the different factors is crucial in ensuring successful mushroom farming.

#1: Temperature

Temperature is one of the most critical factors in mushroom farming, as it affects the growth, development, and yield of mushrooms. Optimal temperatures are also important to prevent mushroom fungus.

Typically, the ideal temperature for mushroom cultivation is between 18-23°C (65-75°F). Temperatures outside this range can affect the growth and yield of mushrooms. However, some types of mushrooms may have different temperature requirements, therefore, always check the optimal temperature for the mushroom you are cultivating. 

High temperatures can cause the mushroom substrate to dry out, leading to poor mushroom development. Yet, low temperatures can cause the substrate to become too wet, leading to the growth of mold and other microorganisms. Therefore, controlling temperature is crucial in ensuring successful mushroom farming.

For example, when the temperatures exceed the optimal range, the stipes (stalks) of Shiitake Mushrooms (Lentinus edodes) and Nameko Mushrooms (Pholiota nameko) can elongate, and the pileus diameter is often reduced. On the other hand, species that are small and have slender fruiting bodies, such as the Velvet Shank Mushroom (Flammuline velutipes) may develop better at the optimum vegetative growth temperature. 

It’s also important to note that a mushroom’s color varies with increasing light intensity and temperature. 

For example, when Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus florida) are cultivated at low temperatures (10-15 °C), they appear light brown, but when the temperature increases to 20-25 °C, they change to a yellow/pale white color. When cultivating Oyster Mushrooms, you want them to be white.

The best tool to control the temperature in your grow room is a temperature sensor. These are easy to use and provide you with accurate and reliable results to ensure your mushrooms grow in a healthy environment.

#2: pH

Most mushrooms grow best near a neutral pH range; the optimum pH for mushroom cultivation and mycelial colonization is between 6.0 and 7.0 (Oyster Mushrooms: 6.5-7.0, Shiitake Mushrooms: 5.0-5.5). The pH of the substrate affects the growth and yield of mushrooms. If the pH is too low or too high, it can affect the development of your mushrooms.

For example, low pH levels can cause the substrate to become acidic, leading to poor mushroom growth. On the other hand, a high pH can cause the substrate to become alkaline, increasing mold growth and other microorganisms covering your mushrooms. 

Maintaining the proper pH is crucial in ensuring successful mushroom cultivation. To control the pH when growing mushrooms, a pH meter is preferred over ‘old-school’ pH strips. A pH meter offers continuous measurements, allowing you to make adjustments when needed.

#3: Light

Unlike plants, mushrooms do not require light for photosynthesis. However, light affects the growth and yield of mushrooms, and inadequate lighting conditions can cause mushrooms to develop thin stems (stipe elongation) and small caps (pileus). 

Light is extremely important during fruit body initiation, and excessive light can cause the substrate to dry out, leading to poor mushroom development. Inadequate lighting conditions can also influence the color of the pileus. For example, the mushroom’s fruiting body usually appears dark brown, gray, or blackish when grown under bright, intense lighting. Whereas, mushrooms raised in environments below 100 lux, typically appear pale yellow. 

How Much Light Do Mushrooms Need To Grow?

Generally, mushrooms do not need light to grow, as they come from shaded areas in forests. However, for mushrooms to successfully form their fruiting body, light availability is crucial. This light needs to be dim and for only a few hours a day. If you are growing your mushrooms indoors instead of in a greenhouse, indirect sunlight or a fluorescent lamp will be just fine. 

Yet, during primordia formation, the illuminance (lux) should be 200, and for 8-12 hours. 

What Lighting Is Best For Mushroom Cultivation?

Mushroom cultivators tend to use artificial light sources, such as fluorescent or LED lights, usually towards the blue range with a wavelength of 450 nm.

#4: Relative Humidity And Ventilation

Mushrooms thrive in dark and humid environments. To successfully cultivate mushrooms, you should maintain an optimum air humidity of 85-95% relative humidity (RH).

High humidity is crucial in ensuring proper mushroom development, plus it also helps to prevent the substrate from drying out and maintain the appropriate moisture content. However, excessive moisture can cause the substrate to become very wet, increasing mold growth.

On the other hand, low humidity can cause the substrate to dry out, leading to poor mushroom spore and fruiting development. To maintain the proper humidity levels in your grow room, humidifiers, and humidity sensors are used.

#5: Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is another critical factor in mushroom cultivation. The ideal CO2 concentration for mushroom cultivation is between 800-1,500 ppm, however, different growth stages require different CO2 levels. 

During the spawning period, aim for a CO2 level of 10,000 to 20,000 ppm. But, during the fruiting stage, you want to drastically decrease the CO2 level to 1,000 ppm, because high levels of CO2 can cause mushrooms to develop thin stems and small caps. For example, when cultivating an Oyster Mushroom, the CO2 level can reach up to 20,000 ppm (20-22%) during the spawn run, but during cropping, it should be lower than 600 ppm (0.6%). 

On the other hand, low levels of CO2 can cause the substrate to dry out, leading to delayed sporophore formation; sporophore initiation occurs at CO2 levels of 0.1-0.15%. 

To maintain the proper CO2 levels when growing your mushroom, you can use CO2 generators and a CO2 meter for continuous and reliable CO2 measurements.

#6: Oxygen (O2) 

Oxygen (O2) is an essential element required for the survival and growth of mushrooms. Oxygen is involved in many processes that contribute to the overall development of mushrooms. During the colonization phase, the mycelium needs oxygen to grow and develop. The mycelium uses O2 to break down nutrients and convert them into energy that is needed for growth. 

Furthermore, O2 is also necessary for the fruiting phase of mushroom cultivation. The fruiting phase is where the mushroom produces the actual fruiting body that we see and consume. During this phase, O2 is required for the respiration process, which is the breakdown of carbohydrates into energy. Without sufficient O2, the mushroom’s growth will be stunted, and it may not produce the desired fruiting bodies. 

However, too much O2 can also be detrimental to your mushrooms during cultivation. Excess O2 can cause the mycelium to dry out and become less productive. It can also lead to the formation of harmful molds and bacteria that can infect the mushroom and cause disease. Therefore, it is important to maintain the proper levels of O2 during the cultivation process, which is easy with an oxygen analyzer.

#7: Electrical Conductivity (EC)

Not much is known about electrical conductivity (EC), yet what we do know is that if the mushroom casing layer (the last layer of soil media) has a high EC level, the mushroom fruiting becomes drastically reduced or inhibited.

Summary

Mushroom cultivation is a rewarding hobby, yet it is a complex process that is affected by various factors. Temperature, pH, light, humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2), moisture, and oxygen are critical factors that affect mushroom cultivation, particularly the fruiting stage. Understanding these factors is crucial in ensuring successful mushroom cultivation.

Mushroom farms use various devices and techniques to control these factors and ensure optimal mushroom growth and yield. Proper monitoring and management of these factors can lead to a successful mushroom farming operation.

If you have any questions regarding mushroom cultivation, or what measuring tools you need for your grow room, do not hesitate to contact the world-class team at Atlas Scientific

Mushroom Cultivation Probes & Sensors

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