Boom Times For Oyster & Shiitake Mushroom Growers
Worldwide interest and demand for “exotic” mushrooms is growing rapidly, producing an ever-increasing market for both mushrooms and new growers. The most profitable mushrooms grown in the U. S. are oyster mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms, both gourmet culinary mushrooms.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, eighteen million pounds of these tasty mushrooms were grown in the U.S. alone last year. Even better, according to a recent Cornell University study, prices for these two gourmet mushrooms are averaging around $16 per pound, and demand is outstripping supply!
According to Ben Waterman, the Cornell University coordinator for a shiitake mushroom growing project in Vermont, “We could see eight times the current production and still maintain pricing at $16 a pound retail. So there’s a lot of room for new growers to get into this.”
Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms are two of the easiest gourmet mushrooms to grow, and can be produced on a wide variety of “waste” products such as sawdust and straw. They are quick to grow to maturity – typically six to eight weeks from start to harvest. Best of all, you can grow a lot of these mushrooms in a small area.
Using the “grow bag” method, established mushroom growers report yields that average 25 pounds per square foot of growing area yearly. For example, the yield from a 500 square foot grow room would be around 12,000 pounds of mushrooms. You’ll probably sell one-third of your crop at retail prices (currently $16 a pound) and two-thirds at wholesale prices. That’s a solid $128,000.
Unlike the common button mushroom found in every supermarket, which requires special compost and a cool dark growing area, the oyster and shiitake mushroom can be grown indoors in natural light at room temperature. Best of all, exotic mushrooms like the oyster and shiitake do not ship well and have a short “shelf life,” so grocery stores and restaurants prefer to buy from local sources for maximum freshness.
The three most common species of oyster mushrooms grown in the United States are: Pleurotus ostreatus, Pleurotus pulmunarius and Pleurotus sajor-caju. The latter two require a warmer temperature – 86 degrees F. or 30 degrees C. – and so are more widely grown in the warmer parts of the U.S. The most common species of shiitake mushroom grown commercially in the U.S. is: Lentinula edotus.
What Are Mushrooms
When you eat an apple, you are eating the fruit of the apple tree. Likewise, a mushroom is the “fruit” of the fungus that produced it. The fungi family is an enormous one, including such diverse relatives as yeasts,( used to make beer and wine) and molds (used to make penicillin, miso and flavor cheese). Mushrooms are fungi with a fruit large enough to be noticeable. There are thousands of variations in mushroom color, shape and texture.
The oyster mushroom got its name because of its resemblance to the saltwater oyster. The shiitake mushroom’s name came from the “shii” chestnut tree that provides the logs or sawdust used to grow the mushrooms in Asia and the name “take”, which means mushroom in Japanese.
Plant cellulose is the world’s largest renewable food resource. This woody material that acts as the support system for plants requires the proper digestive system to turn it into food. Only a few organisms such as fungi and some insects have the digestive enzymes needed to transform cellulose into food.
Fungus can transform dead trees, sawdust, wood chips, straw and many other forms of plant cellulose into delicious fresh mushrooms. This proven method has been used for thousands of years in Asia. Asian growers merely copied the ants and termites by growing edible mushrooms on rice straw. Since then, growers have succeeded in domesticating many mushrooms, growing them on logs, sawdust and straw.
Established mushroom growers report a yield from the “grow bag” method, around one pound of mushrooms per pound of media (wheat straw or sawdust). Most oyster mushroom growers have six growing cycles of around 60 days each per year, and average 25 pounds of harvested mushrooms per square foot of growing area yearly. For example, the yield from a 500 square foot grow room would be around 12,500 pounds of mushroom.
Both the oyster and shiitake mushrooms are grown as a gourmet food in the West and Asia. In fact, Shiitake is the second most common edible mushroom in the world, and has a medical history that goes back more than 1,000 years. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat flu, colds, cardiovascular disease and to enhance the immune system.
Since shiitake mushrooms help the immune system, it has been show to be useful as a adjuvant cancer therapy when the extract, called lentinan, is used. Studies have also shown shiitake extracts may be helpful in controlling cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Because the demand for gourmet mushrooms is booming, there are good opportunities for new growers to start growing both oyster and shiitake mushrooms for sale, and cash in on these remarkable fungi. Unlike most crops, you won’t need acres of land to make money.
In fact, since the most productive growing method is growing in bags indoors, you won’t need any land at all, just an indoor space where you can control the temperature and humidity, such as a barn, shed, greenhouse or even a spare room or basement in your home. Gourmet mushrooms are an ideal part-time cash crop that can produce a surprisingly good income in a very small space.
“Great book for anyone thinking about getting started growing mushrooms for sale. It gave me the confidence and motivation to actually get started instead of just reading about it! My first harvest was beautiful and sold out. Justin Pearce
Five Steps To Grow Gourmet Mushrooms
- The first step is obtaining the “spawn” to start a culture.
- Next, you’ll need a “substrate,” or growing medium. Most growers use straw for oyster mushrooms and hardwood sawdust for shiitake mushrooms.
- After you’ve heated the substrate to sterilize it, the spawn is mixed in with the straw or sawdust so it can grow and spread.
- Next, the spawn/substrate mix is placed in special breathable plastic bags to grow.
- Finally, once the spawn has colonized, or taken over the substrate, the bags are briefly cooled down to stimulate growth and then moved to a fruiting area, where the mushrooms will grow to harvesting size.
The whole process is not that different than growing vegetables. For example, you plant seed (spawn), cultivate your plants, and harvest the fruits (mushrooms).
Marketing Gourmet Mushrooms
Bill Metzger, who grows both oyster and shiitake mushrooms claims that restaurants are the best market for gourmet mushrooms right now. According to Bill,
“We’re not looking for new customers because we’re selling out every day. It’s getting to be a bigger and bigger market.”
Other good outlets for gourmet mushrooms include local grocers, who typically welcome local growers because they can deliver fresh-picked mushrooms regularly, food co-ops, who also need fresh local mushrooms, and farmer’s markets. Customers at the farmer’s market want, and are willing to pay for, fresh local crops, and are willing to pay a premium for them.
Value-Added Products – Mushroom growers will always have “culls,” those broken or damaged mushrooms that are not quite perfect enough for fresh sales. It’s easy to turn those culls into profits with “value-added products” to sell. Examples of value-added products include pickled mushrooms, dried mushrooms, mushroom seasonings, food products and mushroom growing kits for folks who want to try growing their own.
These are just five of the value-added products covered in Growing Gourmet Mushrooms For Profit that other successful growers are making to double or triple their profits.
What’s In The Book
Here a few of the growing secrets you’ll learn in Growing Gourmet Mushrooms For Profit:
- Sources for mushroom spawn.
- How to prepare the straw or sawdust substrate.
- Substrate additives to increase mushroom yields.
- Setting the correct temperatures for incubation and fruiting.
- Picking the correct lights for your fruiting room.
- When to harvest.
- How many “flushes” to harvest.
- Best value-added mushroom products.
- How to get a free website to promote your mushroom business.
- Wholesale sources for growing and packaging supplies
“I’ve been looking for the “perfect” part-time business to start. When I found this book, I found my answer. This step-by-step guide will help me make my dream come true. Even my kids are excited about helping grow mushrooms! Jennifer Saunders
Growing Gourmet Mushrooms For Profit covers all the essentials you’ll need to take your new mushroom growing business from startup to profitable. You’ll find helpful information on:
- Setting up your incubation and growing area, including climate control and lighting.
- How and when to harvest your mushroom crops.
- The best value-added mushroom products to make and sell locally.
- Resources, such as workshops, organizations, books and videos and supplies for new mushroom growers.
Order Now and Start Growing!
If you’re ready to discover how to start your own profitable gourmet mushroom growing business, get a copy of Growing Gourmet Mushrooms For Profit today. To make it affordable for you to get started, I’m holding the price of this guidebook to just $21.95.
Growing Gourmet Mushrooms For Profit is an eBook, delivered to you as an instant download to your computer so you can get started reading it within minutes of placing your order. If you prefer a printed copy, you can print the guidebook. No printer? No problem. Just have a friend or local copy shop print it for you.
If you decide the book is not right for you, just let us know within 30 days, and you’ll get a prompt, full refund. The gourmet mushroom business is booming, and there has never been a better time for you to get started. Each chapter is full of useful information, helpful advice and tips from the mushroom pros. In addition, a chapter of hard-to-find resources helps insure success.
Special Offer: Learn How to Market Your Harvest with a Free Bonus Book
Order today, and also you’ll get a free copy of Sell Your Harvest. In this 78-page eBook (which normally sells for $19!), you’ll discover the 50 best free and low-cost ways to market your specialty crops and value-added plant products on a shoestring budget.