Growing Mushrooms

  • Shiitake and oyster mushrooms can be grown at a small scale facility
  • A knowledge of the conditions, biology, and pests of mushrooms is necessary
  • The specialty mushroom market is growing in the U.S. due to increasing consumer demand

Growing Mushrooms

The specialty mushroom market in the United States is growing. These mushrooms include oyster, shiitake, maitake, and lion's mane. Shiitake and oyster mushroom production is a viable choice for small-scale production. These do not require the amount of equipment and facilities of some of the other mushrooms produced in the United States.

The shiitake mushroom is used in food and can be found in health food stores. This mushroom is growing in popularity in the United States due to its flavor and consistency. Production of these mushrooms in the U.S. began in the 1980's. Shiitakes grow on rotting hardwood; in commercial production, the moisture and temperature of logs used for growing must be carefully controlled. Although large-scale commercial production requires a large commitment in terms of time and money, small scale production or hobby farming can provide supplemental income. Farmers should carefully consider the risks and benefits associated with growing specialty mushrooms before entering in to the venture.

Oyster mushrooms are grown on a sterilized cereal grain substrate and grown in bags or bottles. As with shiitake production, moisture, air movement, light, and temperature must be controlled for best production. These edible mushrooms are relatively easy to produce on a small scale.

Other Publications

Producing Shiitake Mushrooms: A Guide for Small-scale Outdoor Cultivation on Logs (PDF)
NC State University

This publication discusses the areas suitable for production shiitake mushrooms, selecting spawn, the inoculation process, stacking methods, controlling log moisture content and temperature, pest and disease management, and harvesting the mushrooms.

Basic Procedures for Agaricus Mushroom Growing (PDF)
Penn State College of Agriculture Sciences

This fact sheet will outline the overall mushroom production cycle of the white button mushroom and give a brief description of each of the production stages. The specific criteria (temperature set points, carbon dioxide concentrations, and so forth) involved in each stage will change depending on different mushroom crops and different mushroom growers, but the basic concepts and methods of mushroom production remain constant.

Growing Mushrooms Commercially: Risks and Opportunities (PDF)
University of Idaho College of Agriculture

Specialty mushrooms (shiitake and oysters, for example) have traditionally high wholesale prices. Mushrooms can be grown outdoors or in controlled chambers, allowing for flexibility in facilities and capital required. This publication discusses the risks and opportunities associated with both outside and indoor production of mushrooms as well as the management of mushroom production and marketing your mushrooms.

Mushroom Cultivation and Marketing: Horticulture Production Guide (PDF)
ATTRA National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

The market for mushrooms continues to grow due to interest in their culinary, nutritional, and health benefits. They also show potential for use in waste management. However, as fungi, mushrooms have life cycles very different from those of green plants. The choice of species to raise depends both on the growth media available and on market considerations. Oyster mushrooms, which grow on many substrates, are easiest for a beginner. Shiitake mushrooms already have earned considerable consumer demand. Only two mycorrhizal mushrooms, morels and truffles, have been commercially cultivated. Mushroom cultivation offers benefits to market gardens when it is integrated into the existing production system. A careful analysis of potential markets must be the first step in deciding whether to raise mushrooms to sell. Many information resources are available for further research.

Shiitake Mushroom Production & Marketing (PDF)
University of Florida IFAS Extension

The commercial viability of shiitake mushrooms, management considerations, risk factors, and marketing are all discussed in this publication.

Shiitake Mushroom Production On Logs (PDF)
Alabama Cooperative Extension System

This detailed how-to guide gives clear instructions on how to produce shiitake mushrooms on logs.

Cultivation of Oyster Mushrooms
Penn State College of Agriculture Sciences

Oyster mushroom production has increased in the United States, reflecting an increase in consumer demand. This publication discusses how to produce oyster mushrooms using a sterilized cereal grain substrate.