- Miscellaneous: mushrooms
- Crop Production: agroforestry, organic fertilizers
- Production Systems: general crop production
- Soil Management: earthworms, organic matter
The U.S. is the second leading producer of fresh mushrooms in the world, second to China. Over half of the mushrooms produced in the U.S. are produced in the Northeastern states. Gourmet mushrooms such as shiitake and oyster mushrooms are the fastest growing segment of the mushroom industry. High demand for shiitake and oyster mushrooms has inspired small producers like ourselves to get into the business growing mushrooms for local sales. Shiitake and oyster mushrooms are commonly grown indoors on straw and sawdust substrates. These bulk substrates are inoculated with a mushroom culture and produce fresh mushrooms in a series of flushes. Eventually the mushrooms deplete the nutrients in the substrate and become spent. This spent mushroom substrate (SMS) is commonly composted. We propose evaluating profitable alternatives to composting that will maximize the SMS potential. We will compare the profitability of composting the SMS with use of the SMS to produce other marketable end products including other fresh mushrooms species, live worms and worm castings. We propose that by diversifying farm products in this manner a specialty mushroom farmer is able to broaden an otherwise niche market and increase farm viability.
Project objectives from proposal:
Our project seeks to compare the profitability of the conventional use of SMS (composting) with the profitability of other uses. These uses include raising worms for worm castings and live worms and growing additional mushroom species.
Our control will be SMS to compost. Data will be collected on SMS start weight, dates turned, finished compost weight, nutrient analysis, sales figures and labor costs. At the end of the season compost will be analyzed, packaged and marketed. We will reduce the total market value by the cost of materials and labor. This number will be divided by the total pounds of SMS initially used. This will tell us the profit per pound of SMS originally used.
The worm crop will be fed and monitored and weight of any added worm food will be recorded. Data will be collected on SMS start weight, finished castings’ weight, weight of worms, nutritional analysis of finished castings, sales data and labor costs. We will reduce the total market value of these products’ costs by materials and labor costs. This number will be divided by the total pounds of SMS initially used. This will tell us the profit per pound of SMS originally used.
SMS start weight for mushroom beds, fresh mushroom yields, material and labor costs will be recorded. Fresh mushrooms may not occur until the second growing season of a new mushroom bed. We will market fresh and dried mushrooms at farmers markets and restaurants. Experience has shown that fresh mushrooms of this nature can expect a retail farmers market price between $14 and $24 per pound. Total value of harvested mushrooms will be subtracted by cost of materials and labor. This number will be divided by the total pounds of SMS initially used. This will tell us the profit per pound of SMS originally used.