Developing Commercial Cordyceps Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2018: $14,996.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2019
Grant Recipient: Fungi Ally
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Willie Crosby
Fungi Ally

Information Products

Cordyceps booklet (Book/Handbook)


  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Crop Production: plant breeding and genetics, varieties and cultivars
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Proposal summary:

    Small scale mushroom cultivation is rapidly expanding. As more farmers grow shiitake and oyster mushrooms, prices will begin to decrease or the market will become saturated. In order to continue healthy growth of the small scale mushroom sector more methods and species of mushrooms that can be cultivated should be introduced. Ideally these would be mushrooms that receive a high price even if competing with larger farms. Cordyceps is one of the highest valued mushrooms cultivated in the world currently. The US market for cordyceps is rapidly growing in the supplemental and herbal markets, generally higher value markets than fresh produce. This creates an opportunity for growers in the northeast to diversify their products while serving a growing market demand. This study will look at basic production variables including substrate, strain, and jar size, measuring the impact of each on yield. Cordyceps militaris is a species that grows in the northeast, wild strains have been cloned and should be tested for viability with commercial practices. Substrates commonly used in India and Thailand will be tested to see which works best with the strains available. We will follow these trials up with extensive outreach and education so potential farmers can learn the methods of cordyceps production. This outreach will be conducted by on farm tours, webinars, a free published booklet, and a video discussing the process of cordyceps production.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project has 5 objectives:

    1. Increase the number of species available for commercial mushroom growers in the Northeast. By broadening the types of mushrooms growers can cultivate there will be less competition with large farms and an increase in overall mushroom products available.
    2. Increase profitability and longevity for mushrooms farmers. Rather than focus on just shiitake and oyster mushrooms, keep small farms on the cusp of new mushroom species that can be cultivated.
    3. Expand the market for mushroom farmers. Allow mushroom farmers to move into the high value market of supplements and medicinal agricultural products.
    4. Educate farmers and consumers what cordyceps is and how it is grown.
    5. Improve health through consumption of agricultural products. Instead of looking towards synthetic compounds produced by pharmaceuticals allowing people to use naturally occurring compounds to address health.

    Farmers will benefit by

    creating excitement about a new product that has a growing following. increasing income without a large increase in labor or infrastructure having access to a highly potent medicinal mushroom

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.