For the first time, cultivation of white button mushroom (A. bisporus)
started in France around 1630 (Atkins, 1983). In the beginning, it was grown in open conditions. Around 1810, a French garderner (Chambry) cultivated them in underground queries in Paris. The possibility of continuous production was demonstrated by Callow (1831) when he cultivated A. bisporus
in a cropping house in England. He was able to produce about 1.5 lb/sq. ft. By 1925, mushroom was grown in caves in Holland. The U.S.A. took up this work in the late 19th century. After the second World War mushroom cultivation spread in about 80 countries. Nowadays, edible mushrooms are eaten in Africa, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Europe, India, Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tibet and China.Table 18.5. Distribution of edible mushrooms in India.
||Solan (Himachal Pradesh), Punjab
|A. compersris (= Psalliota compestris)
||Punjab, W. Bengal, Bihar, Jammu
||Uttar Pradesh, Deoban
||W. Bengal, Kashmir, Solan
||U.P. Punjab, H.P. Assam
||Sikkim, Mussorie, Assam
||North-west Himalayas, Punjab, Darjeeling, H.P., Sikkim
||Punjab, Kashmir, H.P., Kumaon hills (U.P)
||H.P., Dehradun, Siwalik hills,
||Kashmir, Kumaon hills, H.P.
||W. Bengal, foot hills of Himalaya
Distribution of edible mushrooms in India is given in Table 18.5. The common mushroom A. bisporus
is abundant in cattle fields in Punjab. It is used by many people. The morel (M. esculenta)
is found in Kashmir and hills of Kumaon region in U.P. Bhoteans consume Hypoxylon vernicosum.
Kashmiri guchhi (Morchella
spp.) is very popular which is sold even at the rate of Rs. 1000/kg dry mushroom.
In India, mushroom cultivation started long before a century, as the Volvariella valvacea
was cultivated on paddy straw. Therefore, this mushroom is also known as the paddy straw mushroom. In 1950s, an attempt was made to cultivate mushroom in Coimbatore (Thomas et al,
1943). In 1962, Pleurotus flabellatus (Dhingri coroyester)
was successfully cultivated in Mysore. Besides many attempts, its cultivation could not be popularized upto the late 1960s. For the first time an attempt was made for artificial cultivation of A. bisporus
at Solan (Himachal Pradesh) where synthetic compost preparation technology was developed, by using horse dung and wheat straw.
Rapid development took place at this centre. Modern Spawn Laboratory and Air Conditioned Cropping rooms were constituted under the guidance of an expert from Food and Agricultural Organizations (FAO).
From 1974, a coordinated scheme was launched at Solan, Bangalore, Ludhiana and New Delhi. FAO deputed its expert for improving the cultivation technology. Dr. W.A. Hayes came to India, who recommended for incorporation of molasses and brewer's grain in the preparation of synthetic compost. This increased the mushroom yield. In 1977, State Department of Horticulture (H.P.) launched a project of Rs. 1.27 crore, under which a Central Mother Unit (CMU) for bulk pasteurization of compost and casing soil was established. C.M.U. supplies about 80 tonnes of pasteurized compost per month to growers in Solan, Shimla and Sirmur districts (Sohi, 1988). During 1966-70 mushroom cultivation was introduced in Kashmir valley, where by the end of 1975, the number of growers increased to 90. This took up its cultivation as cottage industry in Srinagar and Jammu region.
In 1974, Uttar Pradesh Department of Agriculture (UPDA) started mushroom cultivation on exploratory trial at Vivekanand Parvatiya Krishi Anushandhan (VPKA), Almora. U.P. Govt. also sanctioned a project for mushroom cultivation to the Department of Botany, Kumaun University, Nainital. At Almora Centre, two crops in a year are raised (i.e.
in February-April and September-November) in natural conditions. The compost is prepared from agro-wastes i.e.
straw of wheat, barley and oat and dehulled corn cobs, grasses, fresh leaves, etc.