While the general growing principles of all mushrooms are same, some varieties of mushrooms such as Milky and Button mushrooms require the application of casing to develop fruiting bodies. It also prevents thefrom drying out and provides additional support and nutrition to the developing mushrooms.
However, the need for casing often raises a bunch of problems for cultivators.
Disadvantages of Casing
- This additional step is an added investment in time and cost for the cultivator as they need to pasteurize the casing and then apply a new layer of casing each time to get a of mushrooms.
- It raises the risk of the introduction of contamination via the improper pasteurization and processing of the casing material. A single contaminant in the casing could ruin the entire crop and contaminate the growing house
- There is also the added time for the mycelium to colonize the casing layer so that it can develop pin heads. This can delay the initial flush if the casing layer is too thick.
- Accidentally dropping a cased bag in the growing house and lead to a mess and possible source of contamination.
- Not all cultivators have easy access to casing material. Sometimes, growers use regular garden soil that might contain too much clayey or sandy components. This either compacts the casing layer causing the mushrooms to only develop at the margins of the cased bag or does have decent water retaining properties. It also raises the risk of contamination.
- In case the nutritional content of the casing material is too high, it causes the over colonization of the casing by the mycelium
Regardless, casing usually causes quite a bit of inconvenience for growers. Hence a method to cultivate without the need for casing would be extremely valuable.
In my years as a cultivator of Milky mushrooms, I had noticed a phenomenon where when a fully colonized bag milky mushroom substrate that had not been opened is stimulated by sunlight, it develops a white tumor like growth in the exposed region within the plastic. When the plastic surrounding this lump is removed, it immediately starts pining and developing into mushrooms in a matter of days.
While the exact biological mechanism and cause is not known to me, the results were quite intriguing. It raises the possibility of using photo stimulation to cultivate milky mushrooms in a very controlled fashion without the need of any casing material whatsoever. My initial search and enquiry with scientists have not had any results as it seems that no one has conducted any studies in this phenomenon. With a proper scientific study, the technology to have casing free cultivation of Milky Mushrooms might one day be possible.