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Hawaii's gourmet fungal Jungle.

Laupahoehoe is a small town located on the Hamakua Coast that runs along the northeastern face of the Big Island of Hawaii. Sugar cane fields once dominated the coastline, but now have been replaced with more diverse agricultural crops. The passage of the sugar cane industry in the 1990s was not the only alteration to forever change the appearance of the Hamakua Coast. Hamakua Heritage Farm (HHF), a facility producing and selling gourmet mushrooms, is an example of the new class of agricultural enterprises to bloom along the this coast.

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Bob and Janice Stanga founded HHF in 2000. At first, they struggled to produce 600 pounds of Shiitake and Gray Oyster mushrooms a week. Today, they have a state-of-the-art facility that produces 5,000 pounds of gourmet mushrooms weekly.

Production of Shiitake and Gray Oyster mushrooms was done in bags, using local Koa (Acacia koa) wood as the base for the substrate. Around 2003 things changed, however, after Bob learned that mushrooms in Brazil were cultivated successfully on sawdust from Eucalyptus trees. Coincidentally, the Big Island of Hawaii has an abundance of Eucalyptus trees that were planted in the 1990s. After initial tests yielded good results, Eucalyptus became the standard substrate for the farm.

In 2003, HFF chose to improve efficiency and consistency in mushroom production as well as to develop new species of high quality, fresh mushrooms. The owners developed a consulting relationship with Malcolm Clark and David Law of Gourmet Mushroom, Inc., in Sebastopol, CA, after reading an article about the company in Mushroom News. Clark and Law subsequently helped them to expand their product line and production capacity by becoming automated. Ever since this fruitful venture, HFF has been growing mushrooms using the Japanese technology of bottle cultivation, employs 20 staff members and grows Pleurotus eryngii(""Alli [TM]" or "King Oyster" or "Eryngii"), Pleurotus ostreatus ("Gray Oyster"), Hypsizygus marmoreus ("Brown Shimeji", "Kea Shimeji[TM]" or "White Shimeji"), Auricularia cornea ("Pepeiao" or "Wood Ear") and Agrocybe aegerita ("Pioppini" or "Black Poplar").

Production of Substrate

The substrate used for growing the mushrooms is composed of sawdust, wheat mill and corncob. The wood comes from trees of Eucalyptus grandis, which are cut into logs of approximately 10-20 inches and ground into small sawdust particles.

The whole corncob (supplied from a company on a neighboring island) also is ground, but to bigger particles (<3mm). The substrates are formulated specifically for the different species of mushroom to be cultivated and the ratios (fresh weight) among sawdust:corncob:wheat mill vary between 6:2:0 and 5:4:1.

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The mixer is loaded with all ingredients of the substrate (sawdust, corncob and wheat mill) and mixed for 15-30 minutes. Water is added to keep the moisture between 63 and 67 percent. After mixing, the substrate is carried through a conveyor to a filling bottle machine.

All species are grown in polypropylene bottles with a 4" in diameter, 6.5" in height and 1000 mL in volume. The bottles are covered with a cap containing a polyurethane filter to protect the substrate and the mycelium against contaminants and excessive dehydration; the cap also allows for gas exchange, a necessary factor for mycelium.

Rollers carry plastic trays containing 16 bottles. Each bottle is filled with about 1.5 lb of wet substrate and a hole is made in the center of the substrate to provide aeration, consequently allowing easier growth of the spawn. Then the bottles are capped automatically and cleaned with air pressure to avoid any residue of substrate that may remain on the trays or between the bottles. Immediately after filling, the bottles are placed in an autoclave and kept at 250 [degrees] F for one hour. The productivity of filling bottles is approximately 2,000 bottles per hour.

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Cooling Down & Spawning

After sterilization, the autoclave is unloaded on pallets in a clean room and cooled below 80[degrees] F. A tracking sheet for each pallet contains information about the date and time of sterilization and formulation used. Tags are color coded to identify the species and strain to be inoculated.

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The trays are moved on rollers to a spawning machine that is kept inside a clean room with HEPA filtration and positive air pressure. All equipment is disinfected with 70 percent alcohol and UV light (kept on inside the spawning room for 15 minutes prior to the inoculation).

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Spawn, supplied by Gourmet Mushroom Inc. (Sebastopol, CA), is kept in the same kind of bottles as those used for cultivation. Spawn is grown in a sawdust medium base supplemented with nitrogen-organic supplements. The bottles with spawn are refrigerated at 38-40[degrees]F and transferred to the spawning room 24 hours prior to the inoculation and kept at 75-77[degrees]E The bottles are uncapped and spawned with a spawning machine at a rate of 1 percent, capped again and transferred by rollers to the incubation room.

Incubation

The trays with the bottles are placed on pallets (48 trays/pallet) in one of two incubation rooms at 74-77[degrees] F in darkness. C[O.sub.2] is maintained between 1500 and 2200 ppm. A visual inspection and evaluation of the mycelium growth is done at two and four weeks after spawning. Contaminated bottles or ones with slower growth are pulled from the room.

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Scraping or "Kinkake"

To stimulate uniform growth of the Shimejis, Gray Oyster and "Alii" mushrooms and to harvest them according to a pre-determined schedule, the bottles undergo the process of scraping. The trays are transferred to a scraper machine where the caps are removed automatically and the substrate on top of the bottles is partially removed by blades (approximately 1/2 inches from the upper part of the bottles). The process lasts approximately 15 minutes. For Shimejis, the scraper is rounded (convex shape) and flat for "Alii" and Gray Oyster. A pallet containing 48 trays (768 bottles) is scraped in 15 minutes. Ten to 20 mL of water is added to each bottle, the trays are stacked on a pallet and transferred to the harvest room with environmental conditions suitable for the initiation of primordia and harvesting.

For Pepeiao and Pioppini, the process of scraping is possible but not necessary. When the substrate is scraped, these mushrooms grow in appealing, uniform sizes; however, the period for primordial formation and harvesting becomes too long for these two types of mushrooms, rendering scraping to be less suitable for Pepeiao (14 days) and Pioppini (7 days).

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Harvesting

The harvesting is performed manually. Mushrooms are picked when caps are not completely open. To reduce the risk of contamination and pests in the harvest rooms, there is only one harvest at a time. The mushrooms may be placed in plastic bags, boxes or directly in tills to be packed.

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Pleurotus eryngii ("Alii [TM]" or "King Oyster" or "Eryngii")

After seven days in the harvesting room, the bottle caps are pulled and harvesting begins approximately 14 days later. Whole clusters are picked and cut with a knife to remove the base and any remaining substrate. Each bottle produces 4.5-6 oz of "Alii[TM]" mushrooms.

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Pleurotus ostreatus - "Gray Oyster"

In 2-3 days, gray/white primordia begins to grow and harvesting occurs in 7-10 days. The mushrooms are picked when the biggest mushrooms in a given cluster are approximately 1-2 inches in diameter. Caps are still curved and are dark gray in color. Excess substrate is removed with scissors. Typical production is 3 oz. of fresh mushrooms per bottle.

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Hypsizygus marmoreus -"Brown Shimeji," "Kea Shimeji[TM]" or "White Shimeji"

Trays with Shimejis are placed on horizontal racks with three levels. The mycelium starts recovering the top of the substrate and in approximately seven days the primordial formation is observed. Browns are light gray during the first 10 days, becoming darker in about 14 days, when small mushroom caps emerge.

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The mushrooms are picked in 21-28 days. When ready to harvest, the entire cluster is easily removed. Color, cap shape and height of the mushroom are all factors that influence the decision to pick a given shimeji by our experienced mushroom harvesters. If harvested too early, the mushrooms will not break away smoothly from the substrate and individual mushrooms will be lost. If picked too late, then complications may occur such as mycelia growth around the stem and reduced shelf life. If necessary, any remaining substrate on the base of the cluster is removed by hand. Each cluster weights 4-7 oz.

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Agrocybe aegerita - "Pioppini", "Black poplar"

The bottle caps are removed and misting is performed at least twice a day for the first four days. Small white/light brown mushrooms growing up on top of the substrate are observed when the bottle caps are first removed. The mushroom caps will turn a dark brown or chestnut color after 5-7 days. The harvesting of Pioppini starts 7-12 days after pulling caps. The whole cluster is twisted off and any residual substrate that remains with the mushrooms is removed by hand. Each bottle can produce 3-4 oz.

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Auricularia cornea "Pepeiao" or "Wood Ear"

The trays are moved to a harvesting room covered with a plastic net with a temperature of 71-86[degrees]F, light of 1500 lux and relative humidity between 70-90 percent. The trays are placed in "V" racks and the caps are checked twice a week until primordial formation (white and then pink turning dark) is observed, at which time the caps are pulled.

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The mushrooms are ready to harvest when they reach 0.19-0.39" in diameter, which usually occurs within about two weeks of pulling the caps. Harvesting is done by twisting the whole cluster by hand and removing any remaining substrate with a knife or scissors. Productivity can reach over 6 oz. per bottle.

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Packing Room

In the harvest room, mushrooms can either be placed directly into cardboard cases in amounts weighing about 5-6 lb or be sent to the packing room, a temperature-controlled environment, to be packed into plastics tills. Typical orders are for 4, 8 or 16 ounces of mushrooms. Polycarbonate tills of various sizes and colors are used for different retail customers, depending on their preference. A very exciting product is the "Gourmet Fungal Jungle[TM]," which consists of either an 8 or 16 ounce package of "Alii[TM]", "Kea Shimeji[TM]" and Brown Shimeji (or Pioppini) combined together in one till. The "Gourmet Fungal Jungle[TM]" is a very popular product with large retail supermarket chains.

Cleaning Bottles

After harvesting, trays are placed on pallets and moved outside of the facility to remove the residual substrate remaining inside the bottles. A bottle cleaning machine is used to remove the substrate. Once bottles are emptied, they are ready to be reused for the cultivation process. The productivity for cleaning is about 1000 bottles per hour.

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The spent substrate is sold to local farmers, who come with their trucks and buy the material directly at the farm. Currently, HFF is in the process of working with a local organic soil expert to develop an enriched compost product.

Market

Hamakua Mushrooms are currently sold in 77 supermarkets and over 200 restaurants and resorts statewide. Some chefs on the mainland specifically request "Alii[TM]" or "Kea Shimeji[TM]." Hawaiian wholesale companies also have expressed interest in shipping Hawaiian-grown mushrooms to the mainland.

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New projects

A laboratory for spawn production is to be built soon and will enable HHF to develop the cultivation of exotic mushrooms as well as new species of mushrooms from Hawaii.

The Chef's House is a new project that is nearly completed. It will be used for cooking demonstrations, television programs and community events that focus on products from local farms. The Chef's House is shaped like a mushroom and includes a bedroom to accommodate a guest chef, a kitchen and a deluxe BBQ/Grill on the deck with a spectacular ocean view. The house is surrounded by a tropical fruit orchid, a beautiful herb garden and the natural beauty of Laupahoehoe.

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A gift shop is being developed for selling a variety of mushroom related products, tee shirts, hats and mushroom-inspired cosmetics. A tasting room is being designed for sampling new products derived from mushrooms. The gift shop will be coordinated with specialty farm tours, enabling visitors from far and wide to see how HFF grows and prepares mushrooms for our customers.

Hamakua Heritage Farm, Inc. continues to strive for excellence through research and development. At the same time, they value their employees by being sensitive to their lifestyle, the diverse culture and the community.
Table 1: Period of incubation

Mushroom Days of incubation

Pleurotus eryungii 45-60
Pleurotus ostreatus 21-25
Hypsizygus marmoreus 75-90
Anricularia cornea 35-50
Agrocybe aegerita 45-60

Table 2: Environment in the harvesting room and days for harvesting.

Mushroom Temperature Humidity CO2 (ppm) Days
 ([degrees]F) (%)

Pleurotus eryingii 63-65 80-90 400-1000 14-21
Pleurotus ostreatus 63-65 80-95 400-800 7-10
Hypsizygus marmoreus 62-64 90-95 1200-1600 21-28
Auricularia cornea 71-86 70-90 <400 15-21
Agrocybe aegerita 63-65 90-95 1200-1600 7-12
COPYRIGHT 2008 American Mushroom Institute
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Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:mushroom biology
Author:Filho, Joao Kopytowski
Publication:Mushroom News
Date:Jul 1, 2008
Words:2227
Previous Article:Research & review.
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