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Many Filipinos have been engaged in mushroom cultivation since the 19th century. As more and more people realize its income-generating potential, the number of mushroom growers has recently increased. In the Philippines, there are ten varieties of edible fungi, namely: straw, oyster, shiitake mushroom, button, ear mushroom, milky white, yellow oyster, Ganoderma lucidum, lion's mane and tuber oyster.
Straw oyster (Volvariella volvaceae) or kabuteng saging is one of the easiest mushrooms to grow. At the AgriTalk meeting on Wednesday, September 8th last year, Jose Mariano, the project assistant II of the Regional Crop Pest Management Center 02 of the Ministry of Agriculture, added that the cost of venturing into the mushroom farming industry is very low.
Farmers just need to be patient and persevering in planting them. In addition, while processing farm waste, mushroom cultivation can be a good source of additional income.
The first step in the production of straw mushrooms is to select districts. Farmers need to find a place that can receive direct sunlight during the rainy season and maintain partial shade during the dry season.
Mariano explained that this prevents the mushrooms from getting too wet or too dry. These problems may prevent the development of mycelium or a large number of subdivided branches that form the main growth structure of the fungus or lead to poor mushroom harvests.
Next, farmers should focus on collecting and preparing substrates for growing mushrooms. They can use dried Sabah banana leaves or freshly threshed and dried straw. Properly prepared substrates can increase mushroom yield.
After collecting the substrates, farmers need to soak them in clean water for a period of time. Dry Sabah banana leaves require 12 hours or overnight, while dry straw only needs to be soaked for two to three hours. Avoid soaking them for longer than the recommended time.
Mariano said farmers mostly use banana leaves because they only need to be soaked. At the same time, the dried straw needs to be sterilized by pasteurization, boiling or steaming.
Once the substrate is soaked, farmers can start growing mushroom strains. But before that, it is necessary to remove the excess water from soaking by allowing them to drip from the substrate. After completion, the farmer needs to remember that the mushroom seed should be planted 2 to 3 inches from the edge of the pile and 4 inches from the other species.
During the growth period, farmers need to stay away from ants and termites to maintain the mushrooms to lay eggs. They can do this by covering the growth area with plastic. Mariano recommends that the lid should not be removed or opened during the incubation period. He added that after planting, the mushrooms do not need to be watered for 5 days in the dry season and 7 days or more in the rainy season, depending on the weather.
According to Mariano, unlike oyster mushrooms, straw mushrooms prefer a warm environment and are hatched to allow them to grow.
From the 10th to the 15th day, the mushrooms will start to germinate when they lay eggs. Farmers can harvest straw mushrooms by slowly opening the lid first to avoid exposing the mushroom needles to sudden conditions, then gently hold the stem and pull the mushroom out of the bed.
Farmers can profit from mushrooms in many ways. They can be sold as is, or they can create new products by adding value to highlight the taste or health benefits of mushrooms. Due to the demand for healthy snack alternatives, the market for mushroom products continues to grow. Some popular products include mushrooms, chicory, seasonings and candies.
Mushroom cultivation has made great progress in the Philippines. This practice is not only a hobby of farmers and enthusiasts. Through mushroom production, farmers can earn additional income, protect the environment, and even promote a healthy lifestyle.
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