Managing the Growing Rooms Good Habits or the Personnel

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Integral to the success of a mushroom farm is the daily management of the growing rooms. The environment within the growing room is constantly in a dynamic state of change. Events can quickly cascade, drastically, and sometimes inalterably, affecting the outcome of the crop. The daily activities of the personnel especially impact the quality of the crop. The head cultivator can perfectly execute his or her duties only to have employees unwittingly sabotage the crop. In many cases, a simple redirection of the sequence of activities can correct the problem. By consistently following well defined rules of conduct, the growing rooms can function to their fullest potential. I recommend establishing a daily & weekly schedule that defines the activities of the personnel. By following a calendar, the crew becomes self-organizing according to the days of the week.

1) Maintain personal hygiene. Shower every day. Wear newly laundered clothes. Avoid contact with molds, soils, pets, etc. Body odors are a result of growing colonies of bacteria. Those with poor personal hygiene threaten the stability of a farm. If employees can not maintain good personal hygiene, then they must be fired.

2) Keep the property clean. Particular emphasis should be on removing any organic debris that accumulates directly after a production run or harvest. All excess materials should be placed in a specifically allocated, dry storage location. Waste materials should be composted a safe distance away from the production facility.

3) Minimize contact between growing room managers and pickers or other workers. Growing room managers present the same problem doctors do in hospitals: they spread disease. All personnel should wash their hands several times a day and/or wear gloves. The growing room manager should point out contamination for workers to remove. The growing room manager, unless alone, should not handle contaminants. Furthermore, laboratory personnel and growing room personnel should not share the same lunch room, a common site for the re-distribution of contaminants.

4) Use foot-baths Step in disinfectant footbaths prior to going into each growing room. Change baths daily.

5) Frequently wash down growing rooms The activity most affecting the maintenance of a growing room is its thorough washing down once in the morning and once in the evening. After spraying the ceilings, walls, and floors with water (untreated), any debris is directed to the central drain channel, collected, and removed.

After washing the growing room feels fresh.

6) Record maximum/minimum/ambient temperature at the same time each day. Temperature profiling at different elevations is deemed necessary only in poorly insulated rooms With turbulent air circulation, in a highly insulated environment, temperature stratification is minimized. Manual temperature readings should occur at the same time every day. If constant-duty chart recorders or computer sensing systems are in place, they should be reviewed daily and compared. Amb ience of temperature v bin 3-5° F. is preferred.

7) Charting relative humidity. Relative humidity requirements change with each species, each day. Charting humidity can be a valuable tool in training the growing room manager to delicately balance the environment in favor of mushroom formation & development, but limiting the growth of molds. Wood-based substrates are particularly susceptible to green mold growtl 'f humidity is too high directly after removal of the blocks from the soaking tank. For instance, Shiitake blocks benefit from a fluctuating humidity env: ronment whereas Oyster mushrooms require sustained 90% + huridity.

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