Pests and Diseases: Once you have
gotten to the stage of mushroom production, you will now be faced
with a continuing battle with pests and diseases. Among the pests,
you will find insects, mites and nematodes.
Among the diseases and competitors, you will find many fungi
and bacteria. [Note: The author believes that an organic approach
to mushroom cultivation and pest control is best. He feels that
proper growing conditions and good strain selection can produce
healthy, robust mushrooms that resist disease and invasion by
pests. He does not recommend the use of copper salts, fungicides
or other pesticides. The use of these poisons can be avoided
by proper composting and maintaining proper growing conditions.
Information on the use of pesticides is provided because of their
proven efficacy, reference within the mushroom culture literature,
and common use by the commercial mushroom agricultural industry.]
Most pests can be avoided by well done, clean composting. It
is impossible to over emphasize the importance and benefits of
strict adherence to tidiness and sanitation of the work area
and continued attention to the cleanliness of the growing areas.
The compost should be constructed on a cement slab, or by some
means kept from direct contact with the earth; sheets of plywood,
plastic pools, flattened van tops can all serve as a barricade
to soil bacterial and fungal contaminants and competitors, and
help to minimize invasion of the compost by insects and other
Peak heating of the compost will eliminate most fungal problems
and insure that you start your cultivation with a medium free
of insects. The addition of 1 lb. of copper sulfate per ton of
compost will help prevent those diseases not killed by peak heating.
Zineb is a selective fungicide that is often used.
Bacterial problems are generally a result of the combination
of too high a humidity with a lack of adequate ventilation. The
mushroom caps must be allowed to dry after (between) misting/sprayings
or bacterial contamination can result. Sometimes a weak (2%)
chlorox solution will help in extreme cases.
Insect pests can be a constant source of irritation. Everything
within ones' power should be done to prevent insects' access
to growing rooms. Diazon can be used as a dust on casing for
mites and flies. Malathion can also be used but tends to cause
pinhead abortion when sprayed. Fly paper and bug lights may be
helpful for those of us wishing to avoid the use of chemical
insecticides but where there are flies in the air, there are
larva in the mushrooms and/or medium. The use of diatomaceous
earth in the casing layer can be attempted as a preventative
approach to larva infestation. The immediate removal of contaminated
boxes is highly recommended.
Mushroom Growing Today, by F.C. Atkins and Mushroom
Growing for Everyone, by Roy Genders; both have fairly
good chapters describing the pests, competitors, and diseases,
although both books rely on heavy applications of chemical
pesticides to control these problems. The
by Paul Stamets and J.S. Chilton devotes a large section to
the description, causes and prevention of the contaminants
and pests of mushroom culture. Stamets reports the use of tree
frogs for insect control in his growing rooms in Washington
State. Again, it should be stated: Most pests can be avoided
by well done, clean composting. It is impossible to over emphasize
the importance and benefits of strict adherence to tidiness
and sanitation of the work area and continued attention to
the cleanliness and environmental conditions (humidity and
ventilation) of the growing areas.
Maintenance of Cultures:
Cultures can be stored on agar plates or slants, sterilized
grain, or sterilized compost. Sometimes the cultures are submerged
under sterilized mineral oil. The stored cultures are generally
refrigerated and can be kept viable for years.
Next: Growing Mushrooms on Logs