By JAMES TABABA
Mushroom production in the Philippines is a growing agricultural sector that offers promising opportunities. The demand for mushrooms, known for their nutritional value and versatile applications, continues to rise, making mushroom production a viable and rewarding venture for Filipino farmers.
Jefte Dangalan, the owner of Tessie Mushroom House in Pugo, La Union, has the largest mushroom production in the region. His farm is also an accredited Agricultural Training Site by ATI (Agricultural Training Institute). Here he shares his insights and tips for oyster mushroom production.
Invest in knowledge and training
Starting mushroom production may require attending training sessions and seminars to gain technical know-how. Although it involves initial expenses, investing time and resources in learning the fundamentals will set the foundation for a successful venture.
Use agricultural waste
Utilizing agricultural waste such as sawdust and rice straw as media for mushroom production offers an environmentally friendly solution. Because the burning of these materials is prohibited by law, redirecting them towards mushroom cultivation helps mitigate waste management issues while generating a valuable resource.
Essential equipment and substrate composition
To start mushroom cultivation, beginners should acquire a drum, a steam cooker, sawdust, molasses, D1 rice bran, and lime. To make a mushroom fruiting bag, a specialized container used in mushroom cultivation to support the growth and development of mushrooms, a suggested formulation of 82% sawdust, 15% rice bran, 2% molasses, and 1% lime will help prevent contamination and mold growth while having a balanced nutrition for mushroom production.
Maintain optimal moisture content
The moisture content in fruiting bags is crucial for mushroom growth. Aim for 70-80% moisture content in a 6×12-inch plastic bag, weighing approximately 850g. Excess moisture slows down mushroom growth, while dry conditions significantly reduce yield.
Proper growing house conditions
Maintain a room temperature of 20-28°C with 70-80% air humidity in the growing house. During hot weather, misting or spraying water inside the growing house can lower the temperature and prevent fruiting bags from drying out. Cleanliness is vital throughout the entire process, from steaming substrates to the incubation and growing areas. Mosquito nets can be used to keep insects away from the fruiting bags.
Shield from direct sunlight
Direct sunlight can cause oyster mushrooms, which contain a high water content, to wither. Ensure that the growing house has a roof and use shaded nets on windows to block sunlight. Protecting the mushrooms from excessive heat is essential for good growth.
Maintain proper ventilation
Mushrooms emit heat and carbon dioxide, making ventilation crucial. Proper airflow within the growing house ensures a healthy growing environment and prevents the buildup of greenhouse gas and heat.
Leverage the rainy season
The best season for mushroom production is during the rainy season when humidity levels are naturally favorable, and temperatures are lower. This facilitates an optimal environment for mushroom growth, leading to higher yields.
Harvest mushrooms at the right time, typically within three days of emergence. Delayed harvesting causes weight loss and reduces the quality of the mushrooms. Regular monitoring and timely harvesting are essential to maximize yield.
Scale-up the production
With proper management, mushroom production can yield a rapid return on investment. By maximizing production and following effective strategies, you can lower costs and increase income. For example, consider the potential of mushroom fruiting bags. These can be sold for twice their cost or generate twice their value within just 4 to 6 months.
To maximize cost-efficiency and income in mushroom production, it is advisable to scale up your operations. Increasing the number of fruiting bags produced allows for economies of scale where the cost per unit of production decreases as the volume of production increases. Purchasing supplies, such as sawdust, rice bran, and other ingredients, in bulk can also lead to better prices and reduce production expenses. By doing this, labor costs aside, each fruiting bag can cost as low as P8.00, offering significant cost savings.
By following these essential tips, aspiring mushroom growers can establish a successful venture while maximizing yield and product quality. With dedication, knowledge, and proper management, the world of mushroom cultivation holds great potential for enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.