Standardizing mushroom substrate production

 A standard practices manual for substrate production has been released for Canada’s mushroom producers.

Substrate is the material on which mushrooms grow, and can include many different ingredients from straw and saw dust to compost and other organic materials.

Mushrooms Canada led the creation of the guide with the support of funding from Growing Forward 2 (GF2). The project included farm visits with five members of the substrate task force and consultation with industry representatives as the materials were being developed.

Individual meetings were held with substrate producers to review the manual and evaluate its effectiveness in commercial operations. Well-received by industry, the manual is now considered the standard for substrate production in Canada’s mushroom sector.

The establishment of a formalized normal farm practice for producing substrate is important to helping ensure and communicate food safety, and maintaining public trust in the Canadian mushroom industry.

Over 90,000 tonnes of mushrooms are grown every year on less than 50 Canadian mushroom farms, with approximately half the production coming from Ontario. Most are sold on the fresh market with some also going to canning; approximately 36,000 tonnes of fresh mushrooms annually are exported to the United States.

Growing Forward 2 is a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists with the delivery of Growing Forward 2 in Ontario.