What is The Best Mushroom Strain?

To define what is the best mushroom strain, we must first determine the parameters by which we will compare each mushroom strain with one another. For my purpose, I used what I call the Mushroom Value Rating or MVR.

If you go over this list you may want to add another factor or two, and you could do this, but before doing it, think first about how much more precise the answer will be if you would add them to the list.

I wanted to keep it as simple and easy as possible, and therefore, I used the following parameters.

Days to mature (DTM)

Why DTM? The faster a mushroom grows, the quicker you can harvest them and get paid by selling them. Which means the shorter the time, the better. The DTM is heavily influenced by the strain you are using, but also by the substrate, supplements, and your location. As well as other factors.

Yield per bag/bottle or yield per linear foot

Depending on how you grow your mushrooms, you should standardize how easily you can measure the yield. This is, for example, done by measuring the yield per bag or bottle. But you can also use yield per linear foot if you are growing button mushrooms on long fixed shelves.

By doing this, you will get over time an average yield per bag. If you then multiply this value with the average price you can sell your mushrooms, you know exactly what the minimum yield for a mushroom species must be to keep it growing.

If for example, your average yield per bag is 4 lbs and the new mushroom species achieves on average only 3 pounds you should carefully think if you should continue growing it. But you also should think about how you could improve the yield by changing specific parameters.

Here the higher the yield, the better the rating.

Price per bag/bottle or yield per linear foot

If you can sell a mushroom at a higher price point than another than this mushroom would get a higher rating. In the end, you want to live from what you are doing and to do so you need money. The more money you can get per bag or bottle or linear foot, the better you are off.

Long harvest period

What do I mean by a long harvest period? Think about it this way. Each time you must refill your fruiting room with new bags or bottles, you don’t generate money. Because nothing is growing. Which means after the first flush you want another flush, and another and another and so on. The more flushes a mushroom strain can produce, the better because you just need to harvest them.

The longer the harvest period which means, the more flushes a mushroom species can produce, the better. But keep in mind that while some mushroom species producing many flushes, the yield per flush will get down or and the time between two flushes will increase.

It makes, therefore, since to remove the bags way earlier than the last flush, because the time to produce them is longer than the time for a new bag to grow. Makes sense?

If for example a mushroom species will produce 4 flushes over 180 days and the average yield is 2.5 lbs then you will get 10 lbs per bag. More importantly, you will get 0.05 pounds per day.

On the other hand, this mushroom species produces the first two flushes in 40 days with an average of 3 lbs then you will end up with 6 lbs or 0.15 lbs per day. Which is a factor of 3!

It, therefore, makes no sense at all to keep these bags longer than two flushes in your fruiting room.

Popularity

To grow something nobody wants makes no sense at all either. What they want is something you must figure out on your own, because it depends on the region you are living in or where you want to sell your mushrooms. What is popular in Canada or Germany may can’t be sold in India or Brazil and vice versa.

The more popular a mushroom is in your region, the better the rating.

An overview of 26 Delicious Mushroom Species You Should Cultivate can be found if you follow the link to my article.

With that said, now it is on you. Make a list of what you want to grow and rate it according to the five characteristics I just described. If you do this, you will get something like table 1. Then sort the list from the highest to the lowest score (MVR). And there you have it. Your list of mushrooms you should be growing to make money.

While in the beginning, this rating is more a starting point of what you should growing than an exact method, but with the time you will get a better understanding of how you should rate each mushroom species.

Table 1: Overview of different growing conditions for various mushroom species Own creation based on Paul Stamets

Table 1: Overview of different growing conditions for various mushroom species [1]

You should keep in mind that these factors will change over time. What is popular right now may be less popular in the future or the other way around. 

More importantly, your way of growing will change. You will get more and more experienced, and with that, you may improve some factors of some mushrooms, and for others, you don’t. Which means that you must check your ratings on a regular base. Especially after a specific time frame has passed.

This means you should calculate for each mushroom the return (profit) you are getting back from it. After doing this, you might notice that most of your income comes from one or two mushrooms, but you are growing 10 or even more.

If this is true, then you should pause for a moment and think about why you are growing them in the first place. Because in the end, and as mentioned earlier, you want to live off what you are doing. And therefore, you should grow only mushrooms which are bringing you money in.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t grow others, but your time and energy are limited. And if you grow too many mushrooms which are bringing almost nothing on the table, you will eventually burn out, and that won’t help you.

A last note, you should keep in mind that on a small mushroom farm the MVR should be higher than on a larger farm. This means the smaller your farm, the more specialized you must be to make money off it.

The positive side effect of being specialized is that you get way faster better at what you are doing, and therefore, you are more likely to get the results you want.

[1] Own figure based on Paul Stamets (1993) Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms

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