Did you know that eighty per cent of Australian households regularly purchase fresh mushrooms? And that mushrooms are also the sixth most valuable horticultural crop grown in Australia? Ideal for self-sufficiency growers, those who work in the commercial mushroom industry or anyone keen to try out a mushroom kit at home, our Certificate of Mushroom Production will introduce you to the most widely cultivated mushrooms and how to produce them.
In our mushroom growing course, you will learn about fungi plant identification, growing mediums for edible fungi, spawn production, how to make compost and the growing methods and techniques for mushrooms. You will also study the pests, bacteria and diseases that can affect them, the ideal growing conditions for mushrooms, and how to harvest, store, use and market them.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking a mushroom growing course include:
- Learning how fungi are named in terms of the system of plant identification
- Exploring the characteristics of all fungi
- Gaining insights into the history of mushroom cultivation
- Studying the three fungi kingdoms – Zygomycota, Basidiomycota and Ascomycota
- Learning how to distinguish edible fungi – mushroom structure, tell-tale characteristics and the genus Agaricus
- Gaining insights into the significant edible fungi including Coprinus fimetaris, Flammulina velutipes, Letinus erodes, Pleurotus, Stropharia, Volvariella and Auricularia auricula
- Examining mushroom species – Agaricus campestris, Agaricus bisporus, Agaricus bitorquis, Coprinus fimetarius, Flammulina velutipes, Kuehneromyces mutabilis, Lentinus edodes Shiitake, Pholiota nameko, Pleurotus spp (Oyster Mushroom), Stropharia rugosa annulata, Volvariella volvaceae (Edible Straw Mushroom), Auricularia spp, Tremella fuciformis, Tuber spp., Tricholoma matsutake, Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) and Grifola frondosa (Hen of the woods, Maitake)
- Understanding mushroom culture
- Learning about the options for obtaining spawn
- Exploring the steps in growing the Agaricus species – preparation, spawning, casing, harvest
- Studying the growing mediums of mushrooms and understanding soil and compost
- Gaining insights into acidity and alkalinity
- Understanding how to cultivate Agaricus bitorquis and Coprinus fimetarius
- Learning about spawning and spawn production
- Exploring how to find spawn supplies
- Studying the process of spawning and the typical rye grain method
- Gaining insights into storing and using spawn and the problems with spawn
- Understanding how to compare temperature conditions for spawning and fruiting in cultivated edible mushroom species
- Learning how to cultivate Pleurotus and Stropharia
- Exploring how to make and case beds
- Studying growing methods – caves, bags, houses, outdoor ridge beds, troughs, etc.
- Gaining insights into casing – biological process, characteristics of casing material and procedures
- Understanding techniques – spawned casing, ruffling and scratching
- Learning about Auricularia and Volvariella
- Exploring the growing conditions for mushrooms
Common Mushrooms Grown in Australia
Mushroom varieties are covered in varying degrees in our mushroom growing course, but here are some of the more common types produced in Australia.
Also known as the champignon, this is by far the most commonly grown mushroom in the world. In some areas, it is known by other species names. For example, Agaricus brunnescens is a former name for Agaricus bisporus, and this name is commonly still used. Agaricus hortensis is a synonym that is applied to the pure white forms of Agaricus bisporus.
The species Agaricus bitorquis has some characteristics that make it more desirable than Agaricus bisporus. For example, it has enhanced virus resistance, resists bruising and has a longer shelf life. These characteristics have led to it being used in breeding programs aimed at producing crops more suited to the fresh market.
Sometimes referred to as Coprinus cinerea, this species is suited to canning, freezing and drying, and Coprinus fimetarius has an excellent flavour and the potential as a novelty vegetable. While many species of Coprinus are highly ephemeral (meaning they have an extremely short shelf life), Coprinus fimentarius has enhanced potential as a cultivated mushroom. It is also easy to grow and can quickly produce good commercial yields.
This fungus is commonly known by names such as Winter Mushroom, Velvet Foot and Velvet Stem. Cultivated Japanese varieties are known as Enoki and Enokitake, but they bear little resemblance to wild populations. Wild varieties are dark in colour, whereas the cultivated Japanese varieties are grown in low-light conditions and have pale skin and flesh. This mushroom fruits in cold conditions, fruiting bodies are small and delicious, and it grows naturally on wood and can be cultivated on sawdust.
The Shiitake mushroom is the most popular cultivated mushroom in Japan. It is grown on logs of Fagaceae trees like Oaks and on various other trees. This mushroom is said to possess many health benefits, including the presence of many polysaccharides and polysaccharide-protein complexes that have been isolated and used for therapeutic purposes. These include immunity-stimulating properties against viral infections, high cholesterol and even cancer.
This mushroom is usually sold fresh or dried, and although there is potential for commercial shiitake mushroom cultivation, many markets have high-quality standards that must be met.
Known as the Oyster Mushroom due to its appearance, this is probably the most commonly cultivated species of mushroom. It grows naturally on dead wood, but can be cultivated on any cellulose material, including wood shavings, waste hulls from agriculture and even on toilet rolls! This and several other species of this genus are edible and have the potential for cultivation commercially.
Sometimes known as the Garden Giant, this species has been grown commercially in Germany and grows wild in parts of Europe. It is cheap and easy to grow, but yields are variable so it is generally not suited to commercial production. It is, however, well suited to outdoor culture in home gardens. Indoor fruitings are possible, but the King Stropharia is slow to fruit and requires an unsterile casing to stimulate mushroom development.
The edible Straw Mushroom originates from the tropics and sub-tropics and has been cultivated and eaten for centuries in China and other Asian countries. This mushroom is traditionally cultivated on fermented rice straw but due to the nature of traditional cultivation, yields are typically low and variable. However, modern cultivation practices using industrial waste from cotton processing have increased yields and the further development of the industry.
Known as a “jelly fungus”, this species has the common name Judas’ Ear based on a myth that it grew as a result of a curse on the tree that Judas hung himself on! It was eaten in ancient China and cultivated on logs throughout Asia. A dried version of some species of the Auricularia mushroom can commonly be found in Asian grocery stores.
History of Australian Mushroom Production
Early mushroom collections were made by botanists James Drummond and Ludwig Preiss in the early to the mid-19th century. Renowned Australian naturalist, John Burton Cleland, conducted the first systematic review of Australian fungi in a landmark monograph of over 16,000 specimens at the South Australian Herbarium. He was assisted by Edwin Cheel, the keeper of the Herbarium at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. This resulted in two comprehensive volumes on South Australia’s larger fungi in 1934, which was reworked in 1997 as Larger Fungi of Southern Australia by mycologist Cheryl Grgurinovic.
In terms of commercial mushroom growing in Australia, it can be traced back to 1933 in the disused railway tunnels under Sydney. In the late 1930s, the mushroom industry moved outdoors to the Hawkesbury district when growers created the first raised beds in open fields. However, crops were fragile and low yields resulted due to the extremes of Australia’s weather conditions.
In the 1940s and 50s, mushrooms were essentially a seasonal crop produced during the cooler months due to growing techniques that were used in 19th century Europe. It wasn’t until the 1960s that modern mushroom farming emerged, and in 1961, a number of growers attended a meeting in New South Wales to discuss the future of the mushroom industry.
From these humble beginnings, the Australian Mushroom Growers Association (AMGA) was formed, and in 2012,
Australian Mushroom Growers celebrated 50 years of growing together. These days, locally grown mushrooms are increasing in popularity, including those sold at local Farmer’s Markets. So now there’s even more reason for you to undertake our mushroom growing course!
Gain valuable insights into the most popular mushrooms and how to produce these fun-gi (pun intended), with a mushroom growing course such as our Certificate of Mushroom Production