- Fungiculture is the process of producing food, medicine and other products by the cultivation of mushrooms and other fungi (like truffles). Unlike plants which depend on the sun, mushrooms rely on their growing medium for food and energy. Examples of this food-and-energy source are compost, mulched hay, sawdust and wood chips.
- Four important mushroom species are grown commercially. These are the common cultivated mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, the Shiitake mushroom, Lentinula edodes, the oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus and the paddy-straw mushroom, Volvariella volvaceae. The common cultivated mushroom is the most important species with the greatest estimated global production.
- Most mushrooms found in supermarkets have been commercially grown on mushroom farms i.e. in controlled, sterilised environments. Separating edible from poisonous species requires meticulous attention to detail, since there is no single trait by which all toxic mushrooms can be identified, nor one by which all edible mushrooms can be identified. The term ‘gourmet mushroom’ generally refers to any mushroom except the white and brown button mushroom commonly found in supermarkets.
- Approximately 300 mushroom species have known medicinal properties, and another 1800 with potential medicinal properties have been identified. Extracts of medicinal mushrooms are used to increase disease resistance and to normalise body functions.
- Mushrooms can also be used for dyeing wool and other natural fibres.
Find grower notes on http://mushroominfo.co.za.
International business environment
Visit www.isms.biz, website of the International Society for Mushroom Science
Mushrooms are produced commercially in Europe (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain), the British Isles, the Far East (China, India, Japan, Korea), North America, Australia and South Africa.
Source: Optimal Utilisation of Thermal Springs in South Africa, WRC Report TT 577/13.
For the newcomer
- Read “Want to start a farm? Why not give mushrooms a shot?” for business advice at https://bizconnect.standardbank.co.za/sector-news/agriculturearticles/want-to-start-a-farm-why-not-give-mushrooms-a-shot.aspx
- Find the grower guides and other material under the “Websites & publications” heading later on this page.
Associations and NGOs
- SEED Gourmet Mushrooms Project Justin [at] seed.org.za www.seed.org.za
- South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association Tel: 011 325 6006 www.mushroominfo.co.za
- The Future of Hope is an NGO that works worldwide growing mushrooms. See www.thefutureofhope.org.
Training and research
- ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij Mushroom Research Centre Dr W A Smit – 082 749 8553
- ARC-PPR (Plant Protection Research) offers courses on demand at the Roodeplaat campus. For information regarding the courses, dates and prices, please contact: Dr Susan Koch at kochs [at] arc.agric.za.
- Through the ARC-PPR Mushroom programme, significant contributions have been made to poverty relief. Communities are trained and production infrastructure established to produce oyster mushrooms for their own and local markets. Contact Dr Susan Koch at KochSH [at] arc.agric.za or speak to her at 012 808 8108. For research on mushroom pests – Prof Eddie Ueckermann, UeckermannE [at] arc.agric.za.
- IsiKhowe Juncao Mushroom Centre (Cedara) Tel: 033 355 9365 / 159 This Centre is part of the campaign to help alleviate poverty and food insecurity in rural KZN. Neil van Rij does mushroom research – 033 355 9159 or neil.vanrij [at] kzndard.gov.za. Alan Manson on campus is involved with truffle production. Contact him at 033 355 9464 or alan.manson [at] kzndard.gov.za.
- Mushroon Guru Tel: 021 854 5126 www.mushroomguru.co.za
- Rhodes University Biochemistry and Microbiology Tel: 046 622 3984 J.Dames [at] ru.ac.za
- Shrooms, based in Newcastle (KZN) sells a mushroom production and business starter pack. They advise clients of different marketing techniques available, and hold seminars on mushroom growing. The starter pack includes an instruction manual. Visit www.ecoafro.com or call 082 059 5972.
- South African Gourmet Mushroom Academy Tel: 021 855 1136 / 082 749 8553 www.mushroomacademy.com Courses include distance education.
- The South African National Collection of Fungi, which houses approximately 60 000 specimens, is known nationally and internationally under the acronym PREM. The name PREM is derived from the city in which the collection is situated, Pretoria (PRE), and the M defines the collection as being mycological. The ARC-PPRI is currently the custodian of the collection. For further information contact Dr A Jacobs-Venter jacobsr [at] arc.agric.za.
- Tshwane University of Technology Dr T Regnier regniert [at] tut.ac.za
- University of the Free State Department of Plant Sciences Tel: 051 401 2514 www.ufs.ac.za
- University of Pretoria Department of Plant and Soil Sciences Dr Noncy Gomba and Dr Nazareth Siyoum Tel: 012 420 3770 www.up.ac.za
- Water Research Council (WRC) Tel: 012 761 9300 www.wrc.org.za The WRC has done a study on using thermal spring water in mushroom farming. Geothermal hot waters heat greenhouses in which mushrooms can be grown. Find details under the “Websites & publications” heading.
- Boland Mushrooms Tel: 023 344 3662
- Boletus Mushrooms Tel: 017 846 9581 www.wildmushrooms.co.za
- Bon Bello Mushrooms Tel: 013 751 5053
- Cape Mushrooms Tel: 021 976 6785 / 082 622 8889 www.capemushrooms.co.za
- Chanmar Mushrooms Tel: 073 824 1684 www.chanmarmushrooms.co.za
- Chantarelle Mushrooms Tel: 031 777 1755 touzel [at] iafrica.com
- Country Mushrooms Tel: 011 964 1455 http://countrymushrooms.co.za
- Dayora Oyster Mushrooms Tel: 072 370 1066 www.dayoraoystermushrooms.co.za
- Denny Mushrooms Tel: 0861 888 182 www.denny.co.za
- Druid’s Garden https://druids.garden
- Forest Fresh Mushrooms Tel: 044 533 9161
- Highveld Mushrooms Tel: 011 317 5300 www.highveldmushrooms.co.za
- Lichen Group www.lichengroup.co.za
- Medallion Mushrooms Tel: 021 300 0586
- Mushroom Guru www.mushroomguru.co.za
- MushRush https://mushrush.co.za/exotic/
- Northern Cape Mushrooms Tel: 053 871 1170
- Nouvelle Mushrooms www.nouvelle.za.net Contact details in Gauteng and the Western Cape can be found on the website.
- Ocean Mushrooms Tel: 028 284 9278
- Piscador pieter [at] piscador.co.za
- Reese Mushrooms Tel : 076 624 9360
- Rhino Plastics Tel: 021 975 4633 www.rhinogroupsa.co.za
- Snowcap Mushrooms Tel: 082 557 2098
- Sylvan Africa Tel: 012 665 2210 www.sylvaninc.com
- Swanpack Porcini Mushrooms Tel: 021 874 1020 www.grapenet.co.za
- Tropical Mushrooms Tel: 014 577 2680 www.tropical.co.za
- Truffle Growers SA (TGSA) Tel: 079 242 0750 www.africantruffles.com, www.trufflegrowerssa.com TGSA offers help in setting up your truffle plantation.
- Truffles of Africa Tel: 082 376 5643 www.trufflesofafrica.co.za
- Valley Mushroom Farm www.valleymushrooms.co.za
- Wild Plum Mushrooms www.wildplummushrooms.co.za Supply mushrooms grow kits with after sale support
- Woodford Truffles SA http://woodfordtruffles.co.za
Websites and publications
- Find the clip on mentorships at Tropical Mushrooms shown on African Features at http://featuresafrica.tv/mushroom-mentorship/.
- Available from the ARC-Agricultural Engineering (ARC-AE) is the publication “Agro-processing of Olives and Legumes (green peas, green beans, cowpeas, lentils, olives, peanuts, mushrooms)”. Call 012 842 4017 or visit www.arc.agric.za.
- Publications from the ARC-PPR (Plant Protection Research) include: (i) Mushrooms and Toadstools / Sampioene en Paddastoele (ii) Medically Important Spiders and Scorpions of Southern Africa. Write to booksales [at] arc.agric.za or infopri [at] arc.agric.za.
- Gryzenhout M. 2021. Pocket Guide Mushrooms of South Africa. Cape Town: Penguin Random House.
- Gryzenhout M. & Goldman G. 2019. Mushrooms and Other Fungi of South Africa. Cape Town: Random House Struik.
- Step by Step Guide on growing mushrooms ISBN 978-0-620-42224-6. There is also a three part DVD set. Order at www.ecoafro.com.
- Find the eBook Mushroom Cultivation Business and Marketing Secrecies by Adriaan Smit and Markus Peter-Erik Janssens at www.mushroomacademy.com.
- Find “Mushroom cultivation” on the website of the Permaculture Research Institute – http://permaculturenews.org/2015/07/03/mushroom-cultivation/
- Find the section on farming mushrooms in the Water Research Commission’s Optimal Utilisation of Thermal Springs in South Africa, WRC Report TT 577/13. These include notes on: making mushroom compost, substrate treatment, seeding, incubation, production, and harvesting. The report looks at using geothermal energy in mushroom farming.
- Commercial mushroom production in South Africa. Bulletin 418. A Eicker. Department of Botany. University of Pretoria.
- Find the following publications at www.amazon.com: (i) Gryzenhout, M. 2012. Pocket Guide: Mushrooms of South Africa. (ii) Stamets, P. 2000. Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms. Third edition. Also at Amazon are several titles on truffles, including Brown, G., Hall, I.R., Zambonelli, A. 2008. Taming the Truffle.
- Find the videos on YouTube like “How to Grow Mushrooms” and “How to Grow Truffle Trees”.
- Read the Agribook blog “Hell for leather … er, mushrooms” about vegan leather being made from mushrooms. Read it at https://agribook.co.za/blog/hell-for-leather-er-mushrooms/.
- Francke R. 2021, April 17. “Success mushrooms for farmer with a dream”. IOL. Available at www.iol.co.za/business-report/entrepreneurs/success-mushrooms-for-farmer-with-a-dream-530e78fd-4e86-5206-8823-f47692a61d9a
- Carte Blanche. 2021, March 17. “Don’t Trifle with Truffles”. Available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8TOqYOgp3M
- Rao M. & Klerken J. 2020, August 25. “Mushroom farming & processing: Ask the expert”. Food Unfolded. Available at www.foodunfolded.com/article/mushroom-farming-processing-ask-the-expert
- Skyer M. 2019, November 28. “How To Grow Mushrooms From Plugs On Logs”. Rural Sprout. Available at www.ruralsprout.com/grow-mushrooms-from-plugs-on-logs/
- Hartebeest C. 2019, September 6. “Mushroom farmer works to make other families self-sustaining”. Food for Mzansi. Available at www.foodformzansi.co.za/mushroom-farmer-works-to-make-other-families-self-sustaining/
- Reporter. 2019, February 20. “Local mushroom farmer named Pick n Pay’s Small Supplier of the Year”. Bizcommunity. Available at www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/162/187595.html
- Van der Watt, E. 2018, November 8. “Going underground with a mushroom farmer”. Food For Mzansi. Available at www.foodformzansi.co.za/weird-and-wonderful-going-underground-with-a-mushroom-farmer/
- Ferreira J. 2018, February 19. “Oyster mushroom farming: an affordable start-up”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-business/agribusinesses/oyster-mushroom-farming/
- Roets, A. 2017, July 5. “Why men need mushrooms”. The Citizen. Available at http://citizen.co.za/lifestyle/your-life-things-to-do/lifestyle-food-and-drink-your-life-things-to-do/1561253/men-need-mushrooms/
- Citizen reporter. 2017, May 30. “Real men eat mushrooms”. The Citizen. Available at http://citizen.co.za/lifestyle/your-life-entertainment-your-life/1527725/real-men-eat-mushrooms/
- Du Preez, J. 2016, November 18. “Mushroom production tips from a Boland farmer”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/crops/field-crops/mushroom-production-tips-boland-farmer/
- Mashala, P. 2014, March 5. “With mushroom & moringa on the side”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/crops/field-crops/with-mushroom-moringa-on-the-side/
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