If you are asking this question, then you are already ahead of all your competitors who are juggling all the different plates and trying to hold them up in the air.
But the more plates they have to deal with the hard lives becomes. A 16 hours workday is the norm, and because everybody around them is doing the same (at least talking about hat hustling is awesome), they keep up the pace.
But deep inside, they know somewhat that it doesn’t feel right. There should be a better way of doing things, and there is. Instead of continually trying to catch up with everything, you should pause for a moment and plan ahead.
And if you do, you already know what you have to do. You also got the first part of your tracking system – the set values. These numbers tell you what you can expect to get the work you are doing.
If you don’t have such numbers then tracking doesn’t entirely make sense. It still helps you, but if you want to get 100% out of your production tracking, then you need these values first.
It is the same question as How Do I Keep Track of My Expenses/Income?
With that said let’s start setting everything up.
To do so, you should define what your goal for this year is.
Example: $40,000 (net profit) or 1,000 lb. per month
I will take the cash value because most people care more about money than about how much they want to produce. And that’s totally fine.
First, we have to consider your margin.
Example: 30 %
- $40,000 / 0,30 = $133,333
With this number, you can now calculate how much pounds of fresh mushrooms you have to produce to achieve this number.
Example: $10/lb. selling price
- $133,333 / $10/lb. = 13,333 lb
Now that you established your baseline, you need to know how long your season is. Which means, how long can you grow and sell fresh mushrooms in your region?
Example: 8 months
Perfect, then you can calculate how many mushrooms you have to produce during this season.
Example: 13,333 lb / 8 = 1,667 lb per month
You then divide this number by 4 to get to the amount per week.
Example: 1,667 lb / 4 = 417 lb
And then insert a safety buffer of 5% or a yield of only 95% in it. This means that only 95% of your bags will produce mushrooms. Your long-term goal is to get this number closer to 98-99%
Example: 417 lb / 0,95 = 439 lb
Great. With this number, you already know how many bags you have to produce per week. With one pound fresh mushrooms per bag, you will end up with:
Example: 439 lb = 439 bags
Because we are only talking about the tracking of your production, you don’t have to convert these numbers into the amount of substrate you need to grow your mushrooms.
The last thing that you need before you can start tracking is the total crop cycle time. Which means you have to know how long it takes from inoculation until harvesting.
Example: Pleurotus 21 days
And there you have it – your set points.
Income per year: $133,333
Income per year: $40,000 (net profit)
Production per year: 13,333 lb
Production per month: 1,667 lb
Production per week: 439 lb
Bags per week: 439
Pre-Season: 3 weeks
For a quick estimate you can use my free Napkin Calculator.
Now that you have done the first part, the second part is the actual tracking of these numbers. To do so, you need a system that not only gives you these numbers but also gives you an inside into your production itself.
Assuming that you produce your own substrate, your tracking starts with the first step – mixing (Table 1). This table consists of 5 columns – No., date, ID.1, substrate, and pound.
The first column counts the amount of mixing you will do during the season.
The second column indicates when you will have do mix your substrate.
The third column is an id-number for each mixture.
In the fourth column, you will track what kind of substrate you used.
And in the final and fifth column, you will write down the quantity of the mixture. The value of 528 lb. Refers to the 132 bags assuming each bag will later contain 4 lb. of the substrate.
Table 1: Tracking mixing
After the mixing and bagging, you sterilize your bags. The example I used here assumes that you are running a small farm, and your sterilizer can only handle 33 bags at once. This limit will impact how you will track your production (table 2).
The first two columns follow the same principle of table 1. What’s new is that you see two different ID-numbers in this table. The first ID comes from table 1, and the second ID is generated after you have a sterilized batch of bags.
As you can see in this example, the first ID appears 4x on this table. This is because you produced 132 bags, but your sterilizer can only handle 33 bags. You, therefore, have to run the sterilization four days in a row to sterilize all bags. In this example, we just added a single digit from 1 to 4 to the first ID to get the second ID.
Table 2: Tracking sterilization
After the sterilization and the cooldown of your bags, it is time to inoculate the bags. Table 3 shows an example of a spreadsheet in which you can track your data. This time the first three columns should be bright. In the fourth column, you will enter the type of spawn you have used (here PO stands for Pleurotus ostreatus).
As you can see for this example, I divided the first batch of bags (1/19-1) into two batches A and B with 20 bags and 12 bags respectively. This split follows the idea to inoculate each bag with a spawn rate of 5%.
But as you will notice at the end of the second spawn bag, you will have something leftover and throw it away. Because using it a day later for the next batch of bags increases the risk of contamination.
Table 3: Tracking inoculation
If you don’t want to do that you can split the two batches even with 15 bags each. Your spawn rate will, in this case, increase to 6,7%, which is just fine. It can also improve your yield or also compensate for some errors.
If you want to find out more about the influence of the spawn rate on the yield, I put some great information together and wrote an article about it.
Now that you have inoculated your bags, they will go directly into the incubation chamber. The tracking here is quite simple (table 4). What you want to track is the number of bags going in and the number of bags going out AND how long the bags stayed in the incubation chamber.
Table 4: Tracking incubation
After the incubation chamber, the bags are ready to go into the fruiting rooms and are prepared for pinning. Which will lead to the last table 5 – the tracking of your harvesting. To do so, your label (see figure 1 and figure 2) should be facing towards you while you are harvesting.
Figure 1 shows an example of a label. You can print this label on a self-adhesive paper an place it after the sterilization and cool down on each bag.
Figure 1: Example of a label
You can even print the label already with “19”. In this case, you only must note two numbers and one letter. Figure 2 gives you an idea of our example from table 4.
Figure 2: Label of lot number 2/19-1J
Here it is not about the individual bag but about the amount you will get from each batch.
Table 5: Tracking harvesting
If you run into some problems, you just take your ID and go over your tables. The result at the end will look like table 6. You will exactly know when you processed each batch. What substrate and spawn you used and how they are interconnected.
Table 6: Tracing of an ID
With this data at hand, you can start improving your production, but that is part of another article.