Harvesting mushrooms is an unfortunately neglected aspect of our craft. The quality of mushrooms is dependent for more than 50% on the method and precise moment of picking. Using the right method correctly and at the right time will yield plenty of extra production.
Give mushrooms space and time to grow
You can compare the growth pattern of mushrooms to an S-Curve. At the start of its lifecycle, a mushroom grows slowly. It then grows much faster, in fact a mushroom can up to double its weight in a single day. That means 4% an hour! So harvesting your mushrooms an hour later can result in production that is 4% higher, without extra costs. It is essential to give mushrooms enough space to grow. Without this, the mushrooms will start to get open, which results in weight loss and deteriorating quality.
Selective picking for a better picking performance
Selective picking leads to better quality mushrooms. This method does not just involve picking the large mushrooms, but also creating space for the remaining mushrooms to grow properly. If there is a clump of mushrooms on the bed, pick the one in the middle. This is easier said than done, as the other mushrooms will tend to come away from the bed too. If you make a twisting motion to release the mushroom, there is a 70-80% chance that only the middle mushroom will break free. If another mushroom does come along with it, make sure you release it from the bed too. Mushrooms separated from the substrate will stop growing and start to go open.
“Selective picking” mushrooms will take most of the first day’s picking performance. However, you will be rewarded the day after by a much better picking performance as well as a higher number of kilos per square meter.
Measure the yield per square meter and per picker
Many farm managers only look at the picking performance. On some farms the same picker is always responsible for the same patch of the bed, so not only the picking performance is registered but also the amount per square meter of bed. A difference of some two to three kilos between pickers often becomes apparent. A picker with higher production per square meter may have a lower overall picking performance.
For this reason, I advise you not just to examine the highest picking performance, but also to look at the production per square meter under identical conditions, same room. There may be no visible differences, but registration will reveal any actual differences.
Sound registration coupled with good picking management and coaching is essential for optimal production.
Bron: Mushroom Blog – Mark den Ouden