Casing is a vital stage in mushroom production. It helps mushroom pins to get adequate moisture that actually helps it to quadruple in size in small amount of time. Casing also speeds up the growth of Rhizomorphs. Rhizomorphs are thick strings made of mycellium fuses or spawn run Primordia or baby mushrooms form on Rhizomorphs, so without rhizomorphs there will be no mushrooms.
The secret of casing materials
So what is the material used by the largest mushroom company in India? On a utilitarian point of view any material that has great water retention ability is good to go.Mushroom producers aim for keeping high moisture surface that speed up the mushroom growth. Though any other material can be used but these are popular casing materials because casing should have small and large pores. Micro pores absorb water very slowly and retain it for a longer time whereas macro pores are large in size and they absorb & release water quickly.
Casing design used by various mushroom company
Clay loam, ground limestone and peat moss casing: Casing soil should be porous as it needs to hold water that will further aid pinning of mushrooms. Experience has taught producers like us how soil should be prepared so that plunging a finger is enough to tell if the soil is ideal or not. Don’t press the soil too much so that it loses the air pockets that actually hold air and water. Pressing too much can close the micro pores.
Cow Dung Casing: Dried cow dung cake is fibrous in nature and it has great water retention ability. In rural India many farmers rely on this for making their casing material. Apart from being abundant, it is organically ideal for holding water. This is another reason why many organic mushroom producers use it for this phase.
Coconut fibre Casing: Largest mushroom companies like us, use coconut fibre casing as these are safe, natural, and hygienic. Besides having these qualities, coconut fibre casings are easy to handle. They are ideal porous material that retains enough water for the process.
As casing covers the compost so their processes are somewhat assimilated. The temperature of the compost should be kept around 75°F for a week after casing while maintaining high moisture content. Thereafter, the temperature of the compost should be lowered by 2°F with every passing day until the mushroom pins show up.
Unremitting attention and intermittent water application should follow the rest of the period as this is the most perilous period of the mushroom growth. It is an art to know when and how much water should be applied. An art that you can master with years of experience.