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OYSTER MUSHROOM CULTIVATION. Substrate preparation and growing. IN PICTURES from Victor to Mickey especially

The process of all-the-year-round manufacture of the OYSTER MUSHROOMS we can conditionally divide into following stages:

- Raw materials for growing oyster mushrooms - Storage - Crushing and preparation of raw materials - Substrate preparation (only a fermentation in this presentation) - Substrate inoculation and incubation - Oyster mushroom cultivation - Harvesting, preparation, storage, shipment of oyster mushrooms Thus:


- STRAW of any grain crops (wheat, rice, barley, rye …) - HULL or HUSK of sunflower, clap, buckwheat … - STALKS of corn, cotton, corncobs … NUTRIENT ADDITIVES:

- WASTE of a clap - HAY of a lucerne (alfalfa), other forage crops… - Bran, a pearl mill waste, the seed coat…


From 1 to 3 % of a mineral additives mix (lime, a chalk, gypsum). Look the article: “New species cultivation in China”.

The rice stubble.

After harvesting the straw remains on the ground in swaths. While it is dry - it is necessary to bundle it urgently.

The straw should be pure yellow color, shining, without any mold symptoms. And DRY, moisture not more than 12%.

This straw became wet from rain, then laid wet on the ground. Its moisture is more than 18 %. See small black spots? Molds are growing. It is NOT SUITABLE for raw material.

Bale straw quickly after harvesting and move to a dry area for storage.

The square straw bale is the most handy in work for a mushroom farm.

And the cheapest in the time of transportation and storage‌

Cost of substrate is over 50% of the total cost of production. For continuous production of mushrooms all year long, storage of raw materials is a difficult problem. Grain crops are harvested during July and August, so straw must be kept clean and dry for up to one year.

25 to 60 % of straw will rot in the course of winter if straw is stacked on bare ground.

The straw storage on bare ground under a plastic sheet. The bottom layer of straw becomes damp and rots away...

The storage on the raised concrete platform with water removal, under a plastic film is a big improvement. But plastic sheets often break due to wind.

Optimal method for straw storage is inside a building with a waterproof roof.

Straw storage at a specialized substrate factory. In this case, special machines are required to move the straw.

The SUNFLOWER HUSK (shell or hull) - Sunflower husks can be stored only in dry closed warehouses. - A period of storage not more than 1 - 2 months is possible, after that, insects and rodents, molds will spoil the material for mushroom growing. - It is desirable to use only fresh husks.

The COTTON SHELL - The cotton shell is a fine raw material for Oyster mushroom cultivation. - In a dry warehouse, it keeps well for months. - The price is low in areas where cotton grow. - Can be used and as nutritional additive to rice straw, or as the basic substrate component with addition of any straw + mineral additives.

The cotton shell includes some cotton fibers and the seed shells.

It is well stored in a dry warehouse


Chopping or shredding the straw is the first step of substrate for growing mushrooms. The goal of processing is to increase density. Straw is pressed into a container and more straw means more mushrooms will grow.

Usually Russian mushroom cultivators use various straw grinders from agricultural combines. Their productivity allows us to prepare up to 10 - 20 tons of a moistened substrate in a day.

Blower allows us to move the crushed raw through tubes to the distance of tens meters.

This straw chopping\moisturizing machinery produces over 100 tons of substrate per day.

The SUNFLOWER HUSK - Sunflower husk - potentially excellent raw material. - No chopping is required. Particles are small enough and have sufficient nutritional value to be attractive to small mushroom farms. - BUT quality changes considerably during one season! - It is often necessary to wash the husks, as so much debris (dirt, pieces of stems) are mixed in during processing to remove oil.

The fresh husk is unloaded into the underground reception bunker.

Then the husk moves by srew-conveyer into the machinery of nonstop washing.

...then the pure husk mixes up on conveyors with moist straw and is loaded into a pasteurization tunnel...

Productivity (Yield) of Oyster mushroom fruit bodies depends on substrate moisture in combination with the level of nutrition... Optimum substrate moisture depends on the raw material used and the method of preparation.

If we have too much moisture in the substrate, there will be "dead" zones in the block. The Oyster mushroom spawn cannot colonize these substrate areas with too much moisture.


Methods of adding moisture to raw materials: - on a floor, spray with a hose and nozzle or overhead sprinkler - in a pool, submerged under water - in screw conveyer with water nozzles - in various blenders that move material past a series water nozzles

Think about how much substrate is to be prepared, and think about the locally available spaces and machines.

on the floor: Stack substrate components and minerals on a concrete floor, sprinkling each layer with water. Temperature will rise naturally as mixture becomes moist.

Adding water in a pool or open tank: We stack raw components by layers into the pool, fill pool with warm water. In some hours drain the water out. Notice wire mesh on top of substrate to keep it submerged. We need method to hold the material under water. Works well for all kinds of raw materials.


Wire mesh is needed to keep substrate material submerged

Add water to raw materials in the screw – conveyor with water nozzles. Slow, but good on the small farm, using sunflower husk, for example.

Here the husk is washed out and moistened with hot water.

Industrial raw materials screw humidifier with mineral mix addition. Productivity - 300 tons a day.

Industrial raw materials screw humidifier with mineral mix addition. Productivity - 300 tons a day.

Mineral mix measuring hopper:

Raw materials watered inside blender:


- Aerobic substrate fermentation - is a process of escalating of useful substrate microflora in the presence of oxygen at naturally raised temperatures (40-50 C degrees) over several days. Natural bacteria and fungi in the raw materials begin to grow in the presence of moisture and increase the temperature inside the pile of substrate. Oxygen is drawn into the pile of substrate by convection. As the warm air rises out of the top of the pile, fresh air is drawn in through the sides of the pile. This gives the microbes “fresh air� to breathe.

Phase I - “Phase I” one can spent directly on a floor (a low-profile heap, then a cone, then clamp) - or in the special type of simplified tunnel "bunker“ or "indoor". “Phase I” technical realization for different raw substrates differ a little also:

“Phase I” on the floor (the straw substrate) - a low-profile heap

“Phase I” on the floor (the straw substrate) - a cone:

“Phase I” on the floor (the straw substrate) - a batch; 10 tons.

Small substrate preparation area. Raw materials: rice straw 20 % + cotton shell - 80 %. From 100 kg to 1-3 tons per a day. Manual mixing (by pitchfork), addition of a mineral mix and adding water on the floor.

If all was made correctly - in a day the cone will be warmed up - it is the time to throw substrate into the second cone. Then into the third. So: in 4 days the substrate become ready to pasteurization.

Mesh container for “Phase I� carrying out (for loose substrates) - 3 tons of a sunflower husk substrate:

Carrying out “Phase I” in bunker - universal method for any kind of raw materials. Usually we use this equipment for the substrate amount more than 10 tons.

Notice channels in the concrete – air comes in

“Phase I� in bunkers - in process of preparation we move substrate from bunker into the bunker, two or three times...

“Phase II" We move substrate into pasteurization tunnels – in these special rooms we finish substrate preparation process. The pasteurization tunnel is like a big box with slotted floor that supports the substrate. Air is constantly blown under the substrate, in carefully measured amounts, to deliver oxygen to the microflora. Tunnel capacity may be from 1 ton up to 150 tons of a substrate. Russian and Ukrainian growers have learned to design and build self-made pasteurization tunnels from 1 to 25 tons of a substrate.

The basic scheme of a pasteurization tunnel. (From "The Mushroom Cultivator" by Paul Stamets.)

Small mushroom farm. Two pasteurization tunnels (1 ton - everyone) + the electric steam generator (10 kW).

Self-made tunnel for 10 - 12 tons. 1 - air filter; 2 - air fan; 3 - pressure air line; 4 – wood steam generator

Two pasteurization tunnels - 25 tons of substrate everyone.

Steam boiler-house for three pasteurization tunnels. (each = 22 tons of substrate)

Operator workplace of three pasteurization tunnels. (each 22 tons)

We can see all processes in each tunnel online.

How to load the "Phase I" substrate into pasteurization tunnel. Depending on volume of pasteurization tunnel and depending on volume of your wallet - it is possible to use various methods and equipment for tunnels loading. For example:

Four rural guys load 10 - 12 tons of substrate within 6 - 7 hours. Main equipment: 4 pitchforks.

Four guys + conveyor load this tunnel (25 tons) for 6 hours. The pitchfork - the main equipment also.

Two men load this tunnel (30 tons) for 4 hours. Equipment: tractor + the adapted potato conveyor.

Two men load this tunnel (30 tons) for 4 hours. Equipment: tractor + the adapted potato conveyor.

The professional equipment for 150 tons tunnels loading.

Planning configuration of substrate manufacture is very important.

Following are two examples careful design decisions:

The finished substrate should be unloaded from a tunnel in microbiological pure zone, to mix with a seed spawn –

to inoculate.

And to make the substrate blocks.

Methods of substrate unloading from tunnel, methods of its inoculation; substrate blocks formation depend both on manufacture scales and on your financial possibilities ‌

Manual tunnel unloading (10 tons): A manual inoculation on vibratory table; manual blocks forming. Brigade of 6 men - 6 hours.

Mechanical tunnel unloading (27 tons). Power mesh is reeled up on a shaft and it pulls out all substrate from tunnel. Duration of an unloading is defined by how fast the men can work.

Roughly 6 - 7 hours.

Such two press + conveyors system (look slide low) + 10 men = 25 - 30 tons of an inoculated substrate for a day.


Substrate conveyers.

Russia (Saratov) makes a small hydraulic press with productivity = 5 substrate blocks/minute.

Large Oyster mushroom substrate factories use the equipment for an inoculation and substrate blocks forming from Italy, Poland‌ Productivity of such lines from 50 to 150 tons/day.

Inoculation room of the small (8 - 10 tons of Oyster mushroom / month) farm.

Such substrate blocks are handy size and weight for stacking and moving in and out of production room.

We transport the manufacture substrate blocks to our own incubation chambers,

‌ or we ship them to our buyers for the distance up to 300 - 500 km.

For substrate manufacture it is necessary to have microbiologic cleanliness. We facilitate work using the disinfection machines.

Factory-made disinfection machine:


self-made. Advantage of self-made disinfection machines: the low centre of gravity + the big wheels = the real possibility to work on rough floors of mushroom farms.

SUBSTRATE INCUBATION - The first stage - substrate colonization (growing) by Oyster mushroom mycelium. - The second stage - each substrate block ripens as a uniform organism, prepares for fructification.

Management of incubation process - a theme for a new and expanded educational lesson.

The purpose of incubation: - to produce mature substrate blocks ready for fructification. Like this, for example:

OYSTER MUSHROOM CULTIVATION - FRUIT BREARING - We must place the ripened substrate blocks to cultivation chambers. Various possibilities for placing substrate blocks in cultivation chambers are shown in the following slides:

To place on the floor:

To hang out by cords or wires:

Arrangement on special shelves - it allows us to load the chamber more densely:

Climate Control - For stable high yields of mushroom crops it is especially important to control microclimate in cultivation chambers. - Modern mushroom farms install systems of automatic maintenance of optimum climate in cultivation chambers. Temperature, relative humidity and level of carbon dioxide (CO2) are automatically controlled.

This operator control the climate in 13 cultivations chambers. (each 60 tons of a substrate)

All climatic parameters of every cultivation chamber are traced on the computer monitor online.

With an optimum climate, fruit bodies of high quality are produced = the best price of sales!

‌ + plentiful fructification!

The fermented substrate + a qualitative spawn + pure inoculation + good incubation climate + optimal climate of cultivation chambers + competent tactics of the substrate blocks movement + the trained personnel + the rigid technological control =

Mushroom manufacturing with uniform yield, week after week, is possible, but not easy.

... for example, the real monthly yield diagram of Oyster mushroom growing by the mushroom farm in Millerovo.

The ripe mushrooms should be carefully harvested; Then placed to the refrigerating chamber and cooled; Then packed up in attractive boxes to send them to the consumers. Some examples:

We pick mushrooms into the plastic boxes only.

Here the such:

It is necessary to place picked mushrooms into a refrigerating chamber quickly.

... for cooling.

To pack up the refrigerated mushrooms under a special vapor-permeable film and to paste your label;

‌to lay mushroom packs into the transport boxes;

... to check up packing of a weight mushroom.

All these works are carried out on a packing area.

Pallet the boxes with ready-made production and load them into refrigerator car.

Some minutes later the car will go to buyers...

• I have prepared and translated into English this presentation for my old mushroom friend -

Mickey Foley. • I have used own materials only. Russian Federation. Krasnodar.

Victor Yakushenko