Mushroom seed commonly called mushroom spawn in the mushroom industry is a result of mycelia expansion. They are generally very expensive, difficult to find and do not travel well over long distances.
Most beginners prefer to start with mushroom growing kits or so-called ready-to-fruit bags from which they can harvest mushrooms by just providing the proper conditions for mushroom growing.
However, others might have started with the organic materials for mushroom growing, i.e. substrate and mushroom seed purchased from their local provider.
The advantage is that whilst those who use the already made kit can see only fruiting, the second group of farmers experience both phases of the mushroom life cycle; vegetative growth and fruiting.
Spawns are used to transfer mycelium onto any material from which mushrooms will grow, called a substrate. There are many different kinds of substrates, with straw, cardboard, logs, and wood chips just being a few examples.
Types of Mushroom spawn
Sawdust Spawn :is sterilized sawdust that has been inoculated with mycelium, often by grain spawn. The sawdust is usually made out of some type of hardwood with pieces neither too large nor too fine (a few mm in diameter).
Sawdust spawn can be used to inoculate logs, outdoor mushroom beds, pasteurized straw, cardboard, and a variety of other substrates. It’s also used to inoculate wooden dowels to create plug spawn. One of the main advantages of mushroom spawn in the form of sawdust is the size of the particles. Because they are so small and numerous, there are many more inoculation points for the mycelium to grow into the substrate. This results in faster mycelium colonization with less time for contaminants to take hold.
A disadvantage of sawdust spawn is that, on its own, it’s not as nutritious for mushroom growing as one would like. Thus you may be disappointed with your yield if you try to grow mushrooms from straight sawdust.
Mushroom growing kits made from sawdust are usually enriched with bran or some other source of nitrogen to increase yields.
Grain spawn: is sterilized grain that has been inoculated with spores or a sterile culture of mycelium. Many types of grain can be used with rye and millet being some of the most common. Other choices are corn, wheat, and different cereal grains.
Grain spawn can be used to create sawdust spawn, more grain spawn, or inoculate all sorts of pasteurized substrates such as straw.A big advantage of using grain is that it’s much more nutritious than sawdust, making it ideal to create more spawn or to inoculate indoor substrates.
This can be done with sawdust spawn, or even with stems of live mushrooms.
An advantage of plug spawn is that it’s very effective for inoculating substrates made from wood or fibers. It easily colonizes cardboard, wood chips, paper, stumps, and logs. But its not always the best choice for straw or grain based substrates.
Other Types of Mushroom Spawn
You may see spawn in many other forms as well. A few examples are:
- Woodchip spawn – Made from woodchips of various hardwoods.
- Straw spawn – Pasteurized straw inoculated with mycelium.
- Sawdust spawn plugs – Sawdust spawn in the shape of a plug with Styrofoam on the end.
- Liquid spawn – Water enriched with mushroom spores/mycelia slurry
The best way to get the most from your mushroom spawn is to match it to your substrate.
For example, if you want to grow mushrooms on logs, a wood-based spawn such as plugs or sawdust is best. The argument is that the mycelium is already familiar with this material, reducing colonization time.
Certain mushrooms also grow better on certain substrates. Before starting, research the types of mushrooms you want to grow to see which substrate to use.
Below lists which substrates are best for which spawn. This is just a general guideline; there are no hard and fast rules about it.
- Sawdust :- Logs, wood chip beds, enriched sawdust, cardboard, and outdoor beds of non-pasteurized straw
- Grain: – Pasteurized straw (not used in an outdoor bed) and enriched sawdust
- Plug/Dowel: – Logs and wood chips|
A little research regarding your mushroom and spawn type in the beginning can save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run. If you’re overwhelmed, it’s best to start with some easy mushroom growing kits to help you understand the fungal life cycle Once you’ve learned the about acquisition, handling and storage, the fun can begin!
Mushroom spawn can be purchased from a variety of different producers, either over the Internet or offline. Since there are many companies out there, it is advisable to do a little research to find one highly recommended. Quality varies greatly so take your time to find someplace good.
Spawn should come to you with a date of inoculation on it. Pay attention to this date, as degradation due to mold, bacteria, and waste products will happen quickly.
Mushroom spawn is a “use it or lose it” product, and rarely lasts beyond 2 months.
Thus you should use it as soon as possible after it arrives. If not, refrigerate it to prolong its life span. Keep in mind that you’re still working against the clock, so bust out that spawn as soon as you can!
Purchasing spawn is just fine for the occasional mushroom grower, but if you want to continuously grow a lot of mushrooms or start growing on a commercial level producing the spawns yourself is a better option. It isn’t too difficult, but it does require more sterile procedures.0