Milky Mushroom Cultivation

Calocybe indica otherwise known as Milky mushroom is a tropical mushroom indigenous to India. It was first discovered in the forests of West Bengal and since then its commercial cultivation and consumption has been popularized in many parts of India. It is a mushroom best suited for a tropical climate with high humidity and temperature. It grows best at 32° C with 90% humidity.

Characteristics of Milky Mushroom:

  • Bright white in color
  • grows on multiple varieties of lingo-cellulose substrate
  • requires casing layer during fruiting stage
  • Bio-efficiency is above 100%
  • has an exceptional shelf life and can maintain marketability even after 1 week when kept at room temperature

If you’re looking to cultivate a mushroom that has good marketability, excellent yield and good shelf life, then the milky mushroom might be for you.

Substrate: (Day 1)

Milky mushroom grow on a wide variety of substrates. A few example of which are wheat/paddy straw, banana leaves, tea/coffee waste, sugar cane bagasse, cotton or corn stalks etc. In India, it is almost per-dominantly grown on paddy/wheat straw due to it being cheap and abundantly available.

The substrate is usually shredded to make it easier to handle during the bag filling phase. Before the chosen substrate can be used, it is important that it is properly processed via either pasteurization or sterilization.

The common methods used are:

  • Chemical Method
  • Hot water pasteurization
  • Steam Pasteurization
  • Sterilization via autoclave
  • Lime pasteurization

Spawning and Spawn Running (Day 1) 

You will need to make sure that after processing, the substrate has a water content of 70%. A good rule to follow is to squeeze the substrate in your hand and if no droplets of water fall, the water content is correct. Usually 10-15% of spawn is required per kg of substrate. When filling the substrate in bags or containers, alternating layers of spawn and substrate are added so that the mycelium will colonize throughout the substrate in the shortest time. Tiny pin holes are made throughout the bags surface to allow for air exchange and the bag is kept in cool and dark place for colonization.

Casing stage (Day 25)

Casing means to cover the colonized substrate with a layer of casing material (Garden soil, peat moss, coconut pith, ash). Casing is known to induce the mushroom pin head formation and provides the growing mushrooms with physical support, moisture. It needs to be pasteurized and then cooled before use.

The colonized bags are opened up on 1 side and a casing layer of 1-1.5 cm is made on the top. A light spray of water just enough to dampen the casing is done and the bag is kept in the growing room. Intermittent spraying water is used to keep the casing material damp.

Cropping and harvesting (Day 32 – 38)

The growing house should have 85-90% humidity, diffused light and plenty of fresh air. After casing, it takes 8-10 days for the first pin heads to develop and start poking out of the casing. It takes a week for the pin heads to develop into mushrooms ready for harvesting. It is always best to harvest the mushrooms before they begin to release spores. When the mushroom cap begins to flatten on the top, it is the time to immediately harvest the mushroom by gently twisting the stem.

The mushroom is now ready for packaging and marketing.

The casing can be scrapped from the harvested substrate bag and a fresh casing layer is applied. The bag is then kept again in the growing house and the procedure is repeated for the next flush of mushrooms. Usually 3 flushes are obtained from each bag.

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