Mushrooms are one of the best cash crops, and their cultivation can be a productive small-scale business. They grow in organic matter in a carefully controlled environment where they are not exposed to sunlight. Mushrooms keep on changing in appearance depending on their diversification and development stage. For instance, Agaricus mushrooms contain a cap and stem. While not fully developed, the cap is usually grey or brown and has a circular shape. However, it flattens when it reaches the maturity stage. Unlike the Agaricus mushrooms, Pleurotus mushrooms have no stem and are usually smooth with an enlarged diameter.
Mushrooms are highly vulnerable to bacterial, fungal and viral diseases. These diseases are usually transmitted through air, water, machines, among others. These diseases include bacterial blotch, Die-back diseases, Green mould, Mites, mushroom flies, mycophytic nematodes, sciarid fly, phorid fly, verticillium fungicola, brown blotch, and others. Although there are numerous types of fungal diseases in mushrooms, mushrooms are highly susceptible to three major diseases, leading to significant damage to this crop. They include dry bubble, wet bubble or Mycogone and cobweb or Dactylium.
Various control measures can be adapted to curb mushroom infestations from pests and diseases.
1. Proper Pasteurization of Compost
In mushroom farming, appropriate sanitation methods entail pasteurizing the soil medium before putting in a new crop. Pasteurizing gets rid of various insects such as nematodes, pest fungi and several other pests present in the compost. Proper pasteurization of mushroom compost is done while temperatures are raised at 14 degrees for not less than four hours. However, compost pasteurization depends on the type of compost used. For instance, some compost, such as straw, is heated in the water while other compost is taken through dry heat.
2. Cleaning the Inside of the Mushroom House and the Surroundings
Before you apply various disinfectants in the mushroom house, you should consider several factors, such as the location of use. Also, ensure all the chemicals used for disinfestations are registered for FCS. However, if the chemicals have not been registered under FCS, ensure you use clean water after disinfecting to avoid the detrimental effects of some chemicals.
3. Disposal of Spent Compost
The spent compost and casing material can be a breeding site for pests and diseases. Usually, it contains insects, mites and nematodes. To prevent infestation of mushrooms, it is imperative to dispose of the spent composite.
4. Screening of Doors and Ventilators
Mushroom pests can easily access the mushroom house through the typical wire screen. When inside the mushroom house, they tend to multiply on spawned compost and mushroom beds. To curb this, it is crucial to screen the doors and ventilators with a nylon net of more than 35 mesh, as this can effectively hinder pests' access in the cropping rooms.
Appropriate disease management, accompanied by exceptional hygiene, should be a fundamental part of any mushroom operation. This helps to keep mushroom pests and diseases away, especially in their developing stages.