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Mushroom Cultivation


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Mushroom Cultivation

Price: £325.00Course Code: BHT310 CLD
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Mushroom Cultivation

Mushroom Cultivation course online. This module covers 8 lessons on how to grow and cultivate mushrooms on either a small or large scale. Emphasis is placed on the Agaricus species (the Champignon), though other commercially important edible fungi are also considered. Growing, harvesting, marketing, storage, pest and diseases and even ways of cooking and using mushrooms are covered. This is an excellent introductory course to understanding the cultivation of mushrooms.


Learning Goals: Mushroom Production BHT310
  • Classify different varieties of fungi which are commonly eaten
  • Determine the techniques used in the culture of edible mushrooms
  • Explain the harvesting of a mushroom crop
  • Explain the post-harvest treatment of a mushroom crop
  • Explain marketing strategies for mushrooms


Lesson Structure: Mushroom Production BHT310

There are 8 lessons:

1  Introduction

  • How Fungi are Named: Review of the system of plant identification
  • Characteristics of all Fungi
  • Three Fungi Kingdoms: Zygomycota, Basidiomycota and Ascomycota
  • Agaricus campestris and Agaricus bisporus
  • Review of significant edible fungi including; Coprinus fimetaris, Flammulina velutipes, Letinus erodes, Pleurotus, Stropharia, Volvariella,Auricularia auricula
  • Synonymous Names
  • Distinguishing edible fungi, Mushroom structure, tell tale characteristics of the genus Agaricus, etc.
  • History of Mushroom Cultivation
  • Commonly Cultivated Edible Fungi
  • 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)
  • Grifola frondosa (Hen of the woods, Maitake)
  • Resources, information/contacts

2  Mushroom Culture

  • Options for obtaining Spawn
  • Steps in Growing Agaricus species: Preparation, spawning, casing, harvest
  • What to Grow Mushrooms in; growing medium
  • Growing media for different edible fungi: Agaricus, Auricularia, Copreinus, Flammulina, Letinus, Pleurotus, Volvariella, etc
  • Understanding Soil and Compost, components and characteristics
  • Acidity and Alkalinity
  • Making Compost
  • Making Mushroom Compost, and mushroom compost formulations
  • Moisture Level in Compost
  • Cultivation of Agaricus bitorquis
  • Cultivation ofCoprinus fimetarius

3  Spawn Production & Spawning

  • Finding Spawn Supplies
  • Overview of Spawn and Spawning
  • Obtaining Smaller Quantities of Spawn
  • The Process of Spawning
  • Spawn Production; typical rye grain method
  • Storing spawn
  • Problems with Spawn
  • Using Spawn
  • Comparing tewmperature conditions for spawning and fruiting in most commonly cultivated edible mushroom species
  • Cultivation of Pleurotus
  • Cultivation of Stropharia

4  Making & Casing Beds

  • Growing Methods; Caves, bags, houses, outdoor ridge beds, troughs, etc
  • Casing; biological process, characteristics of casing material, procedure
  • Techniques; spawned casing, ruffling, scratching
  • Review Auricularia and Volvariella

5  Growing Conditions for Mushrooms

  • Fungi Nutrition: carbon, nitrogen, essential elements, vitamins and growth factors
  • Casing to Harvest of Agaricus
  • Growing Indoors
  • Components of a Built System and Determining Your Needs
  • Factors Influencing Fungal Growth
  • Environmental Control, equipment to measure and control the environment
  • Siting a Growing House
  • Managing the Growing House or Room, cleanliness, heating, cooling, humidity, etc
  • Review of Tuber (Truffle) and Tremella

6  Growing Mushrooms Outside (Pest and Disease Management)

  • Overview of Pests, Diseases and Environmental Disorders
  • Prevention of Problems
  • Review of Bacterial and Fungal Diseases and their Control
  • Review of Insect Pests, Mites, Nematodes and their Control
  • Weed Moulds
  • Safe, Natural Sprays
  • Summary of Problems found on Agaricus bisporus and other edible fungi covered in this course
  • Cultivation of Flammulina velutipes and Kuehneromyces mutabilis

7  Harvesting, Storing & Using Mushrooms

  • Harvesting Buttons, Cups and Flats on Agaricus bisporus
  • Fruiting patterns for Agaricus bisporus and other edible mushrooms
  • Cool Storage of Mushrooms
  • Freezing Mushrooms
  • Dry Freezing Mushrooms
  • Drying Mushrooms
  • Canning Mushrooms
  • Harvesting Agaricus; method of picking
  • Handling Agaricus after harvest
  • Controlled Atmosphere Storage
  • Cultivation of Letinus (Shitake), Pholiota, Tricholoma

8  Special Assignment - Marketing of Mushrooms

  • Review of Marketing options for mushrooms
  • Fresh Mushroom Sales
  • Processed Mushroom Sales
  • Production and Marketing of Shitake, Oyster Mushroom and Straw Mushroom
  • Research and Determination of Marketing Opportunities and Strategies in Your Region


  • Compare the scientific with common definitions for a Mushroom
  • Explain the classification, to genus level, of ten different commercially grown edible fungi
  • Produce a labeled illustration of the morphological characteristics which are common to different edible fungi of the genus Agaricus
  • Compare the physical characteristics of different commercially cultivated edible fungi
  • Distinguish edible Agaricus mushrooms from similar, inedible fungal fruiting bodies
  • Compile a resource file of sources of information regarding edible fungi, including: *Publication *Suppliers *Industry associations/services
  • Determine the preferred conditions for growing two different specified mushroom genra
  • Describe the stages in the growing of Agaricus mushrooms
  • Develop criteria for selecting growing media, for different genra of edible fungi; including Agaricus
  • Describe an appropriate compost for growing of Agaricus bisporus
  • Explain how spawn is produced for different genra of edible fungi
  • Explain the use of casing in mushroom production
  • Compare different methods of growing edible fungi, in your country, including where appropriate:
    • Outdoor beds
    • In Caves
    • In buildings
    • In trays
    • In bags
    • In troughs
  • Describe different pests and diseases of mushrooms
  • Describe appropriate control methods for different pests and diseases of mushrooms
  • Analyse hygiene and exclusion regimes used in mushroom production
  • Prepare a production plan, based on supplied specifications, for Agaricus bisporus, including:
    • Materials required
    • Equipment required
    • Work schedule
    • Cost estimates
  • Grow a crop of Agaricus bisporus
  • Identify the stages at which Agaricus mushrooms can be harvested
  • Explain how mushrooms are harvested
  • Develop guidelines to minimise damage to two different types (i.e. genra) of mushrooms during and immediately after harvest
  • Describe ways to extend the shelf life of two different mushrooms crops
  • Explain different techniques for processing mushrooms
  • Produce dried mushrooms from fresh ones
  • Analyse industry guidelines for the post-harvest handling of a specified mushroom variety
  • Determine the different ways mushrooms are packed for retailing
  • Outline industry generic marketing strategies for mushrooms
  • Suggest strategies for marketing a separately identified mushroom product (e.g. branded, regional)


Your learning experience with ADL will not only depend on the quality of the course, but also the quality of the person teaching it. This course is taught by Susan Stephenson and Andy Patterson. Your course fee includes unlimited support throughout from one these outstanding teachers.


Susan Stephenson
BSc in Applied Plant Biology (Botany) Univ. London 1983.
City and guilds: Garden Centre Management, Management and Interior Decor (1984)
Management qualifications in training with retail store. Diploma in Hort level 2 (RHS General) Distinction. 

Susan Stephenson is a passionate and experienced horticulturist and garden designer. She has authored three books, lectures at 2 Further and Higher Education Colleges, teaching people of all ages and backgrounds about the wonders of plants and garden design, and tutors many students by correspondence from all over the world.

Susan studied botany at Royal Holloway College (Univ of London) and worked in the trading industry before returning to her first love plants and garden design. She is therefore, well placed to combine business knowledge with horticulture and design skills. Her experience is wide and varied and she has designed gardens for families and individuals. Susan is a mentor for garden designers who are just starting out, offering her support and advice and she also writes, delivers and assesses courses for colleges, introducing and encouraging people into horticulture and garden design.

In 2010, Susan authored a complete module for a Foundation degree (FDSC) in Arboriculture.

Susan holds the RHS General with Distinction. She continues to actively learn about horticulture and plants and (as her students will tell you) remains passionate and interested in design and horticulture.


Andy Patterson
PGCE Biological Sciences; Doctor of Naturopathy (pending); Registered Nutritional Therapist; Permaculture Design Consultant (PDC); BSc(Hons) Ecology;


Andy has been a biology and science teacher since 2002, and a natural health therapist since 1998. His original degree was in Ecology and is well experienced in the Life Sciences generally, from biology, medicine and clinical sciences to horticulture, ecology and the environment. he divides his time between a therapy clinic; teaching, tutoring & lecturing. Andy is a passionate believer in the power of education to transform people’s lives, and gives 100% support to helping students achieve their goal. 

Andy has worked as a Biology lecturer in a number of post age 16 colleges, and 11-18 year age schools across the country during a 13 year career. This has included work as an Assessor for exam boards, 1 on 1 tutoring, working with small groups and whole classes. He worked on an award winning national Nuffield- STEM initiative using innovative educational techniques to develop sustainability awareness with KS3 school children. He has also managed a large vocational science area in a busy college and developed a successful Premedical curriculum which has helped many students on to successful medical careers.


Excerpt from the Course


Spawning is the procedure where spawn is added to the prepared compost. The following things are most important:

*Grains of spawn should be separated from each other as thoroughly as possible as the spawn is spread over the surface of the compost.

*Spawn should be mixed evenly through the compost.

*Conditions should be kept as sterile as possible (Wear clean clothing and footwear, wash your hands before carrying out spawning, tools should be sterilized in detail, formalin or some other antiseptic which will not damage the mushroom).

In many larger and sophisticated mushroom farms, the practice is to mix spawn throughout the compost thoroughly using machinery. The older system involves spreading the spawn over the surface and mixing it in with forks.

Do not add spawn to compost while the temperature of the compost is above 30 degrees centigrade. (34 degrees will kill the mycelium). If there is any ammonia present in the compost (i.e.: through composting being incomplete), the mycelium is likely to not grow at all.

Normally 6 to 10 litres of grain spawn should be used for every tonne of compost.

The optimum temperature for the mycelium to grow is 25 degrees centigrade. Three or four days following spawning, a cottony growth should appear around the grain, and depending on conditions, the mycelium should have thoroughly grown through the compost after about 2 weeks.

Once the mycelium has grown to this point it will generate increased heat in the compost. It is important that the temperature be held down, and this is normally done by ventilation or by a cooling system.

In summary:

Spawn – consists of living mushroom mycelium growing on sterilised wheat or sorghum grain. This is sown onto the compost.

Spores – these are equivalent to the reproductive ‘seeds’ of mushrooms (technically are not seeds). They are produced when the mushroom breaks the veil and the gills are exposed, thereby releasing the minute dust-like spores.

Spawn production

Spawn of Agaricus bisporus is produced by growing the mycelium of the mushroom on sterilized cereal grains under sterile, laboratory conditions.

Virtually any type of grain can be used, though rye and millet are most commonly used in commercial situations.

Spawn suppliers often claim millet is better because it produces more inoculating points per unit weight than larger grains. Another argument is sometimes put that larger grains such as rye, provide greater food reserves for the mycelium than the smaller grains such as millet.


1. Grain is boiled in water (Use hard type grain so it doesn't burst in boiling). Moisture content of the grain will be increased by 10 - 40% at this stage.

2. Drain off excess water and mix with 2% gypsum (by weight) and 0.2% calcium carbonate (by weight). This both adjusts pH and reduces the tendency for grains to stick together.

3. Grain is then placed into containers and sterilized in an autoclave (i.e.: steam sterilized under pressure ‑an autoclave is a device similar to a steam cooker). Treat for 1.5hrs at 121 degrees centigrade and at 15 p.s.i. Grain is then allowed to cool.

4. Spawn which has been grown on a special (different) substrate is then added to a container of prepared grain. This provides a "master culture”. The master culture is grown at 25 degrees C. for 11 to 14 days. Over this period, the spawn is shaken in its container at least twice to ensure thorough mixing. The containers used might be glass or polypropylene jars, or perhaps autoclavable bags.

5. Samples of inoculated grain is then taken from the master culture and added to containers of prepared spawn to produce larger numbers of "secondary cultures".


Numerous hybrids and varieties of Agaricus spawn are available from spawn suppliers. These are generally known by numbers rather than names (such as are used for varieties of green plants).

A range of commercially successful hybrid strains were developed in both Holland and Taiwan in the early 1980's.

Dutch hybrids released in 1981 were called U1 and U3. These have since been given names U1 being called "Horronda" and U3 being called "Horwitu". These two were the result of breeding aimed at combining the desirable characteristics of the off white and the pure white spawn types.

The off white produce better size and weight than pure white. The pure white produce a smooth, more attractive, white cap. These varieties have been very successful in the western world producing high quality and high levels of production.


Course Info
Course StartAnytime, Anywhere
Course Hours100
Course CodeBHT310
Course PrerequisiteNo, start at anytime
Exam Required?No - Course is for self improvement
Study SupportYou'll be allocated your own personal tutor/mentor who will support and mentor you throughout your whole course. Our tutors/mentors have been specifically chosen for their business expertise, qualifications and must be active within their industry. Tutors are contactable by e-mail, telephone and through our Moodle Student Support Zone online. Tutors are there to provide assistance with course material, discuss, explain and give advice and support throughout the whole programme. Their feedback is vital to your success.



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