Paddy straw mushroom (Volvariella spp.)
The paddy straw mushroom is having good combinations of all attributes like flavour, aroma, delicacy,
high content of protein and vitamins and minerals, because of which, the acceptability of this mushroom is no way less than much popular white button mushroom. It is an edible mushroom of the topics
and subtropics, and began to be cultivated in China as early as 1822. Around 1932-35, the straw mushroom was introduced into the Philippines, Malaysia, and other south-east Asian countries by
overseas Chinese. Since then, its cultivation has been conducted in various countries outside of the region. The fruiting body formation starts with tiny clusters of white hyphal aggregates called
primordia and it is followed by several morphological stages in the fruiting body development process. The successive stages are called as "button", "eggs",
"elongation", "mature" stages respectively. Differentiation can be seen first at the 'button' stage. At maturity the buttons enlarge and umbrella like fruit bodies emerge
after the rupture of the volva.
Fresh dried straw is most suitable for its cultivation. The straw is tied into bundles of 1.2m long x
25 cm dia (tie end) size followed by steeping of bundles in water in a cemented tank for 24 to 48 hours. The bundles are taken out and put on a cemented floor for few hours for draining out the
excess water. The mushroom beds are prepared on a raised bamboo platform inside a thatched hut. Four pre-wetted bundles are placed side by side on this platform, facing all the loose ends on one
side. Then another four bundles are placed with their tied ends on the opposite side. The loose ends of all the 8 bundles meet and overlap each other in the middle. Spawn is applied on this first
layer about 15cm away from the outer edge. On top of the spawned Ist layer, a little quantity of gram dhal powder (about 200g per bed) is applied along with the spawn. On top of the spawned Ist layer
of eight bundles again a second layer of 8 bundles is placed in a similar fashion and spawned. A third layer is again laid on top of the second layer and followed by 4th layer of bundles and spawning. All these 32 bundles make a single bed which is now pressed to remove the entrapped air and make it compact for effective spawn run. In order to avoid rapid water loss, the beds are covered with polythene sheets or gunny sheets.
The spawn run beds are exposed to fresh air and the mushrooms start appearing within a few days. These
are picked at button stage early in the morning. The fruiting bodies are carefully separated from the adhering straw. Mushroom production continues for a period of 2-3 weeks. Each bed of 30kg dry
straw can produce 4 to 5 kg of fresh mushrooms.
When the mushroom production stops, the straw can be composted to form manure. This mushroom is very
good in taste and valued for its excellent aroma.