If you are looking for a profitable cash crop which can yield handsome profits then you will find the next few lines interesting and informative. Of the various options available there is no denying the fact that oyster mushroom farming is something which has caught the attention of thousands. Hence it would be interesting to have a closer look at the various aspects related to growing of this cash crop. We will look at the commercial aspect of the same, how oyster mushrooms should be grown till they are ready for harvest, where to find the right market for mushrooms and the overall returns of investment that one can expect.
Capital Requirements For Starting This Business
When it comes to oyster mushroom farming the first thing that comes to the mind is the investment that is required. It would be pertinent to mention that growing of oyster mushrooms is not very capital intensive. If you wish to start small the initial startup costs can be very affordable and manageable. In fact it would not be out of place to mention here that it one could get started with only a few hundred dollars. To give you an example, having a few quality LED fluorescent lamps are just about enough as far as the fruiting rooms is concerned. This was a big investment a few decades ago, but over the years the cost of LED lighting systems has come crashing down by as much as 80% in many cases.
The operating cost of this cash crop cultivation is also quite small and therefore not difficult to manage. Other requirements for the oyster mushrooms farming business include fruiting house, spawning house, spawn, thermometer, hygrometer, water sprayer, buckets, plastic bags, sterilizing drum, string. You also require a good oyster mushroom farming business plan before you start the business.
Growing And Harvesting Oyster Mushrooms
The next important task is to find out ways and means by which you can harvest the oyster mushrooms and make some profit out of it. There are many ways by which mushroom can be harvested. Usually it is done indoors and there should be a controlled climatic environment only under which it can be grown. As mentioned above it grows best in artificial lighting environment and LED lamps and other such heating devices have a big role to play. It also can be grown using straw and sawdust instead of logs which are commonly used. Though it can be cultivated outdoors, indoors are always preferred because the humidity, temperature and light can be controlled to give mushrooms the right nutrient and other aids for proper growth and cultivation. Fruiting rooms plays an important role and it can be best controlled in an indoor environment. Mushrooms usually appear in flushes and the first flush is usually largest and this is often referred to as the first harvest. There could also be many more flushed but the sizes of the mushrooms are quite small. There the first flushing is very important as far as quality harvesting is concerned.
Stages of Oyster Mushroom Production
There are various stages of mushroom production. You need to buy spawn (mushroom seeds) to start the business. In the long run, you can then produce spawn on you own. You will also need to buy the substrate (agricultural waste on which the mushroom grows ). Most producers use straw or wood chips. If you are using straw, the straw should be able to be chopped into small pieces. You then prepare the substrate from the straw. Substrates can be any of the following materials-sawdust from deciduous trees, banana leaves, cotton waste, milled maize cobs, chopped rice or wheat straw, chopped maize stalks. Ensure that the substrate has high nutrient content, good water-holding capacity and is well aerated.
You’ll need a spawn to start the culture. You can produce your own spawn using a sterile culture, or you can buy ready-to-inoculate spawn, which are carried by suppliers. Producing your own can be cheaper in the long run, but the start-up costs can be high, so chances are buying the ready-to-inoculate spawn is the way to go for you.
You’ll also need to buy the substrate. Many oyster mushrooms growers use straw or wood chips. Straw is generally the preferred method. You want straw that can be chopped up into little pieces. After that you pack your plastic bags with the straw and spawn. You should pack two or three inches of straw into the plastic bag and then lightly sprinkle the spawn on top.
The next stage is incubation. This room should provide dark conditions and a temperature of around 240C. You can use the same mushroom house but you should not allow natural light to get into the room. After incubation, the next stage is the fruition (Formation of the mushrooms under specific house conditions).
You transfer the mushroom into a fruiting room. This is the room in which the mushroom grows. The size of this room depends on the scale of your oyster mushroom farming business. The walls of the fruition room can be made of various materials like bricks, wood, or even thatch. You will need a lot of natural light in the fruition room, at least 12 hours a day. The fruition room should have wooden shelves or racks to handle spawned substrate bags. The house should provide for temperature maintenance between 190C-250 C. After fruition, you then harvest your oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms will be ready to be harvested about 4 days after the emergence of the fruiting body.
Market For Mushrooms
At the end of the day there is no denying the fact that oyster mushroom farming business could be profitable because there is a big market for the same. However, for those who are getting into the business for the first time getting the right idea may take some time and effort. Today there are dozens of local customers who would be interested in buying mushrooms because of the nutritional value and also for pampering taste buds. Local chefs, grocery stores and direct customers are also potential places where these mushrooms can be sold. It would also be pertinent to mention here that mushrooms are not suitable for shipping over long distances. Hence it would always be better to sell them to local customers when they are fresh. This certainly is a blessing in disguise for small time oyster mushroom growers because big producers will need time to transport them to the local market. You can also supply to local health food stores, supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and restaurants.
How Much Money Can One Make Out Of Oyster Mushroom Business
It takes typically six weeks for oyster mushrooms to be harvested. Since the crop cycle is quite short those who are serious about mushroom business can aspire to make steady and regular income out of the same. Using indoor growing techniques it is possible to produce around 25 pounds per square foot of mushroom each year. Even if you have a small 12 feet by 12 feet growing area you can grow around 3600 pounds of mushrooms each year. Even if half of the same is sold at an average rate of $12 as retail price and the balance 50% at $6 at wholesale price, you will be making an income of around $32,000. The investment at best could be a few thousands at the most. Hence the profit margin is quite huge to say the least.