Mushroom Agriculture 101: How to Start a Mushroom Farm (2024)


Mushroom farming is an exciting new industry that continues to gain popularity among entrepreneurs looking for innovative ways to diversify their farms or operations by producing fresh mushrooms; if you're wondering how to start a mushroom farm then you're in luck! Fungi Farm is an industry leader in supplying mushroom cultivation supplies and education; our main goal is to support mushroom agriculture. This article will discuss a few of the most important factors to consider before starting a mushroom farm.

The picture below is from the backyard of a condo complex in Alabama where 50 lbs can be grown each week. This setup cost less than $1000

Mushroom Agriculture 101: How to Start a Mushroom Farm (1)

Educate yourself to become a successful mushroom grower!

Mushroom Farming is Still Young in North America

It's exciting that so many people are interested in growing mushrooms – they have been cultivated for thousands of years and there is always more to learn! Mushroom farming has many benefits over traditional agriculture; it's environmentally friendly, sustainable, efficient with space usage, low labor costs (when done right), and can be profitable if well planned out for small-scale operations.

Take it slow

It's too bad some people jump into mushroom farming without first learning about the industry. One of the issues is that there isn't much good information available online for mushroom growers; most mushroom farming literature comes from other countries which often use different species and cultivation methods. Another issue is that not many people are growing mushrooms in North America, so it's difficult to find mushroom growers who can offer advice on how to start a mushroom farm. Take the time to learn as much as possible from industry leaders, consultants, and other mushroom farmers; this will increase your chances of success when it comes to starting a mushroom farm.

Mushroom farms do not look like traditional farms

Mushroom Agriculture 101: How to Start a Mushroom Farm (2)

The Basics

Don't get overwhelmed

It can be overwhelming at first, but starting a mushroom farm is fairly simple. There are two options for starting your mushroom farm: indoor or outdoor. Indoor mushroom farming is the best option for serious year-round production. Outdoor mushroom farming is much cheaper but seasonal; not providing a year-round supply of mushrooms.

What is involved?

There are two main components to mushroom cultivation: spawn and substrate. The first component, spawn, refers to any material with mycelium on it that will be used to transfer mycelia into a substrate; this can be sawdust or grains that have been sterilized in a bag or jar. The second component, substrate, is what the mycelium will grow on (as a food source) to eventually produce mushrooms. Several different types of mushroom spawn can be used for cultivation: plug spawn, sawdust spawn, and grain spawn. Ready to fruit blocks are another form of spawn that comes pre-inoculated with the mycelium and is ready to fruit.


It is important to note that there are different varieties of mushrooms, and each has its unique growing requirements. For instance, shiitake mushrooms prefer to grow on supplemented hardwood sawdust or logs as a substrate. Another example is oyster mushrooms which love growing in just about anything; these two varieties are by far the easiest mushrooms to start with.

General tips

Here are some tips for growing mushrooms: mushrooms need water! Make sure you keep your substrate moist at all times. The right temperature is also necessary; if the substrate gets too hot, your mycelium could overheat. Make sure to have good airflow. If the mycelium gets no oxygen, it will die. The post-harvest process is also very important. You must take care to store mushrooms properly until they are ready for sale or consumption.

Mushroom Farming is Difficult

You will face big challenges

I know I just mentioned growing mushrooms is simple, but you would have to be a mushroom farming expert to grow them all successfully. Despite how easy it is to start growing oyster mushrooms or lion's mane from ready to fruit blocks, other mushrooms can be very difficult to grow successfully. Mushroom farming can be very labor-intensive as well.

Make a plan

The type of mushrooms you want to cultivate make a big difference when deciding on your business model. Many factors make some mushroom species easier to grow (and sell) than others – like how quickly you will get a return on your investment or whether your end product is a fresh or dried mushroom. There is no way around it, you should do your research, choose the right species, and develop a plan before investing too much money into supplies or equipment.

Save money buying in bulk, but make sure you can move the material around!

Mushroom Agriculture 101: How to Start a Mushroom Farm (3)

Mushroom farming generates waste. Luckily, the waste is great compost!

Mushroom Agriculture 101: How to Start a Mushroom Farm (4)

Indoor mushroom farming


Growing mushrooms indoors requires less space than other types of agriculture but does have its own set of challenges. Mushroom farming indoors requires fairly expensive equipment, but there are several ways to save money when starting. For instance, by purchasing used equipment instead of brand new; it may not be pretty but will still work just fine for growing mushrooms. There are ways around spending too much on your initial setup; you just have to think outside the box a little bit.

The basics of indoor mushroom farming

The most popular substrate for growing gourmet edible mushrooms indoors is sterilized sawdust, either purchased as pre-inoculated blocks (ready-to-fruit) or prepared using spawn. Growing indoors allows for year-round production, meaning higher yields and less time between harvests. Many other substrates can be used to grow mushrooms indoors including straw, but they are not recommended for commercial production by industry leaders. Environmental control is an important aspect of indoor mushroom farming. The main parameters to consider are temperature, humidity, and ventilation. Mushrooms need light to grow, but not very much. Temperatures must be maintained between 55-65F for optimal results, conditions must be moist but not wet; mushrooms also produce CO2, so they require lots of fresh air; make sure to install proper ventilation. Garages, spare sheds, shipping containers, climate-controlled greenhouses, warehouses; even old chicken houses are great options for indoor mushroom cultivation structures provided the environment is properly controlled and maintained.

When getting started, a simple structure such as the one below can be used for seasonal production in a semi-indoor environment

Mushroom Agriculture 101: How to Start a Mushroom Farm (5)

The southeast provides wonderful weather for semi-indoor production for a large portion of the year

Mushroom Agriculture 101: How to Start a Mushroom Farm (6)

Outdoor, seasonal mushroom farming

If you choose to go the outdoor route, growing on logs is your best option. Outdoor farms can be more cost-effective to get started than indoor farms but only produce in certain seasons of the year- usually, spring and fall. Growing mushrooms this way also requires a larger space and longer initial time investment- logs require a lengthy spawn run (the time it takes the mycelium to colonize the log), sometimes continuing for up to a year before fruiting. Nevertheless, growing on logs is a fun and easy project anyone can do. Logs inoculated with mycelium can be purchased from a supplier and placed in your backyard or on wooded property, or you can inoculate them yourself. You just have to drill holes in the logs and stuff them with spawn, then wait for the mycelium to grow.

Inoculating logs

The logs must be fresh cut and disease free, then you drill rows of holes about an inch deep using a power drill, spaced about six inches apart. Insert the spawn into each hole using an inoculation tool; or if using plug spawn, tap in gently to make sure it is fully seated. Seal the holes with hot wax to prevent contamination and hold in moisture.

Taking care of your logs

It is important to keep an eye on moisture levels while growing mushrooms outdoors; if the logs get too wet, the mycelium will drown, and fruit bodies won't develop. If they get too dry, mushroom growth will be inhibited and the mycelium dies. Growing mushrooms outdoors requires patience but is fun and rewarding if you have the time.

Final thoughts

Mushrooms are a tasty, healthy, and sustainable crop to grow. The number of available products under the umbrella of "mushrooms" has increased exponentially in recent years. The demand for gourmet and exotic food has continued to increase, and there is a growing interest in extremely unique and high-quality food products. There is an increasing trend of consumers demanding locally sourced food products as well, which puts small mushroom farms in a prime position to take advantage of this growing market.

The future

As the trend of buying local food spreads throughout North America, more and more people are making an effort to find products that they can feel good about buying. Consumers are becoming more aware of the negative effects that large factory farming has on the environment, and they are willing to pay top dollar for locally sourced food. If you're looking to start your own business growing mushrooms, it's not too late. If you have the space and resources- growing them yourself is highly rewarding!

Learn more

If you are interested in more information on growing mushrooms check out the rest of our website and please reach out to us! You can visit our farm store in Dadeville, AL open Tuesday-Friday 10 AM to 3 PM, or attend one of our monthly onsite tours. Good luck with your mushroom farm adventure!

Mushroom Agriculture 101: How to Start a Mushroom Farm (7)

Mushroom Agriculture 101: How to Start a Mushroom Farm (2024)


How much does it take to start a mushroom farm? ›

The cost can range from $3,000 to $100,000, depending upon how advanced you plan to make your farm.

What conditions are needed for a mushroom to grow? ›

Mushrooms like dark, cool, and humid growing environments. When you're growing mushrooms at home, a place like your basem*nt is ideal, but a spot under the sink could also work. Before you start growing, test out your spot by checking the temperature.

What is the easiest mushroom to sell? ›

Shiitake and oyster mushrooms are the best choice for small-scale production, since they don't require a lot of equipment and space.

How much money can a small mushroom farm make? ›

So what kind of money can you make? Oyster mushrooms sell for about $6 to $9 a pound. A 100-square-foot growing area can produce, on average, 2500 pounds in a year. That's around $15,000, or $1250 a month.

How much do mushroom farms make per acre? ›

As a result of these opportunities, active mushroom growers report better profit potential for indoor production as compared to outdoors. They provided estimates of $1 to $3 per square foot net income, representing a potential $43,560 to $130,680 income per acre.

Can you make a living as a mushroom farmer? ›

As with any business, however, there are some risks involved and it takes a fair amount of hard work to be successful. If you're willing to put in the effort, though, growing gourmet mushrooms can be a very lucrative enterprise.

How hard is it to be a mushroom farmer? ›

Mushroom Farming is Difficult

Despite how easy it is to start growing oyster mushrooms or lion's mane from ready to fruit blocks, other mushrooms can be very difficult to grow successfully. Mushroom farming can be very labor-intensive as well.

What is the lifespan of a mushroom plant? ›

Once mature, a mushroom can live from just a couple of days to many years. The mycelium network, once established, can last for hundreds, even thousands of years.

What speeds up mushroom growth? ›

Gypsum is a mineral that helps speed up the mushroom growing process in small amounts.

How quickly can a mushroom grow? ›

Mushroom cultivation from inoculation to harvest typically takes around 3 to 4 weeks. However, the duration varies based on factors such as mushroom strain, environmental conditions, and substrate quality. Some strains may fruit faster than others, resulting in a shorter growth period.

What mushroom can't be farmed? ›

Parasitic Fungi

These are mushrooms that attack living organisms. This ecology makes them much more difficult to cultivate. Parasitic fungi are mushrooms like Cordyceps sinensis, which attacks ghost moths, and Honey Mushroom which attacks living trees.

What is the most bought mushroom? ›

Did you know that white button mushrooms represent about 90% of mushroom consumption in the US? This type of mushroom blends well with most ingredients, so it is a chef-favorite that is commonly used in many recipes. And, its flavor is intensified when cooked!

What is the easiest and most profitable mushroom to grow? ›

The easiest mushrooms to grow that are also the most profitable are shiitake and oyster. While you may feel tempted to grow more valuable and challenging varieties, you have to understand that these will require more time and resources.

What type of mushroom is profitable? ›

Shiitake Mushrooms (Lentinula edodes)

A pound of Shiitake can fetch up to $16. Considering production costs, shiitake mushrooms should provide you with a profit margin between 30% to 50%. They're also fairly easy to sell as there's a significant market both in high-end restaurants and at farmers' markets.

Is it easy to sell mushroom? ›

Local farmer's markets, grocery stores and health food stores are good starting places for beginner mushroom growers. Selling to restaurants is a little more difficult as they're often more demanding in terms of quality and consistency and require specific delivery days and times.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Prof. An Powlowski

Last Updated:

Views: 6093

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (64 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Prof. An Powlowski

Birthday: 1992-09-29

Address: Apt. 994 8891 Orval Hill, Brittnyburgh, AZ 41023-0398

Phone: +26417467956738

Job: District Marketing Strategist

Hobby: Embroidery, Bodybuilding, Motor sports, Amateur radio, Wood carving, Whittling, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Prof. An Powlowski, I am a charming, helpful, attractive, good, graceful, thoughtful, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.