Saturday, July 6, 2013

How to Grow Mushrooms for Profit

How to Grow Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a high value crop, and consumer demand has markedly increased in recent years. Nowhere is this trend more clear than with specialty mushrooms, such as oyster and shiitake. Although requiring very different conditions and practices compared with more traditional "green" crops, mushrooms are a viable option for the small-scale grower. As with all ventures, however, research and strategy are essential if you're hoping to make a profit as a mushroom grower.

Research Your Product

Growers should have a thorough understanding of the biological requirements of mushrooms, and especially which species is most suitable for the environment that can be provided. Mushrooms have markedly different life cycles than green plants, a shorter refrigerated shelf life than most, and different pests. Production is extremely dependent on careful control of moisture, air movement, light and temperature control -- which can be unreliable to depend on outdoors, and expensive to maintain indoors.

Species Focus

How to Grow MushroomsButton and oyster mushrooms are the easiest to grow, and can be integrated into an existing garden facility or on their own "substrates" (specialized growing medium), making them the best candidate for small-scale commercial production. Shiitakes grow on decomposing hardwood (typically oak), which will involve saws and safety equipment, or at least sufficient space for synthetic or prepared logs. In general, shiitakes require more attention to environmentally appropriate strains and timed irrigation than button or oyster mushrooms, but none of these will incur the same costs as other commercially grown edible fungi, such as maitake (hen-of-the-woods), morels and truffles.

Market Conditions

Mushroom farmers must be very aware of their market. While full-time growers can dedicate their facilities to mushroom production, most small-scale mushroom farming is more likely to provide merely supplemental income. In general, the long-term indications have been largely favorable for locally grown produce, with perennial growth of consumer interest in gourmet and vegetarian cuisine. However, you'll need to carefully analyze your own region for competition and economic conditions. There is some potential for Internet sales and mail-order, although the relative fragility and short shelf life of mushrooms narrow your options considerably.

Market Analysis

How to Grow MushroomsA careful analysis of your potential market is essential when deciding whether to pursue a profit motive in mushroom growing. Mail-order and Internet sales will extend your range, but most growers should Investigate the potential for sales to locally owned groceries or restaurants, direct sale at farmers markets (or on your website), and involvement with a cooperative. Consider offering your product in a variety of ways to compensate for a more competitive market, or simply to add additional potential for revenue. This may include selling dried or canned mushrooms, gift baskets and samplers, or prepared food items such as soups and sauces.

About the Author

James Lee Phillips has been a writer since 1994, specializing in technology and intellectual property issues. He holds a Bachelor of Science in communications and philosophy from SUNY Fredonia.

1 comment:

  1. How to Grow Mushrooms for Profit, Mushrooms, Mushrooms for Profit


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