Volume 10 Part 2 Article 36: A Vertical Tray System for the Cultivation of Edible Fungi

Volume 10 Part 2 Article 36
Year 1979
Title: A Vertical Tray System for the Cultivation of Edible Fungi
Author: R.H. Kurtzman

Abstract:

Many edible fungi, particulary lignicolous species, grow on vertical surfaces in nature. The vertical surface has many advantages over a horizontal surfaces, both in nature and in commercial practice. On vertical surfaces, natural ventilation can occur, due to convection. In nature, the horizontal surface is generally limited by the surface of the earth. Sunlight can also strike a larger area of vertical surface for those species that require some light. In commercial practice, ventilation by convection can be used to aid forced ventilation. However, it is more important that ventilating ducts and lights or windows may be placed overhead and out of the way, without any interference in their access to the vertical surfaces. The adjacent tray need not interfere in anyway, as do horizontal trays. A further advantage, which should not be overlooked, is that when a horizontal surface is harvested, the fruiting bodies which do fall, fall on the surface of dirty substrate. However, when a vertical surface is used, fruiting bodies would fall along side of the substrate surface. The surface on which they fall, might be prepared, so that it would be suitable as a surface on which the fruiting bodies might be harvested. The ability to collect the mushrooms as they fall, would be a great advantage in the development of a mechanical harvester.

Even in commercial practice, the use of vertical surfaces is not a new idea. A U.S. patent for a tray, which was made out of wire, and was to be used to grow Agaricus, on vertical as well as horizontal surfaces, was issued in 1930 (Steves). While the tray never entered general usage, Shiitake is generally grown on the vertical surfaces of logs. Pleurotus is often grown on straw substrate stacked against a wall. Sometimes it is also grown on substrate placed between a wall and vertical wire mesh. Substrate placed against a wall has only one surface on which mushrooms can form and be harvested. Thus, it would be desirable to use wire on both sides öf the substrate, in order to provide twice the surface that would otherwise be available.

Self-heating increases as the thickness of the substrate is increased, so it is necessary to limit the distance between the outer surfaces, which are able to dissipate heat. It is also true that increased substrate, generally yields increased sporocarps. There are a number of other factors of importance in the design of a vertical tray, although, it may seem to be only a simple box.

The design of Steves (1930) has more horizontal than vertical surface. Disdier’s (1974) tray (figure 1) has some horizontal growing areas which would be difficult to harvest from; in addition, since it must be narrow to avoid self-heating, filling coarse materials from the top would be difficult. If the wire mesh is not coarse, the sporocarps will form between the wire and the substrate. Such sporocarps will be distorted or impossible to reach. However, finely divided substrate will fall through a coarse wire mesh. The design described in this communication avoids each of the problems mentioned.

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