The term mushroom cultivator refers to a person who or business that engages in the cultivation, or growing, of mushrooms. A mushroom cultivator may be an individual who cultivates mushroom in his or her home, in a small growing room, or in the outdoors, or a large or small commercial enterprise that raises mushrooms to sell. The Mushroom Cultivator is a highly-regarded guide to mushroom cultivation for individuals.
In the last ten years, the domestic fresh mushroom volume in the United States has been between 600 and 700 million pounds (between 272,000,000 and 317,000,000 kilograms), according to the Mushroom Council. There was growth in domestic mushroom production from 1996 to a peak in 2004, and as of 2009, levels were still falling and less than those seen in 2000. The volume of imported fresh mushrooms, on the other hand, has seen a continuous yearly increase since 1994, when about 4 million pounds (1.8 million kilograms) of mushrooms were imported, to over 80 million pounds (36 million kilograms) beginning in 2007.
As mushrooms have increased in popularity, more and more people have developed an interest in becoming mushroom cultivators. A mushroom cultivator has a large range of choices of different types of mushrooms to grow. The most popular mushrooms grown by commercial cultivators are white or button mushrooms, crimini mushrooms, portabella/portabello mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, beech mushrooms, and maitake mushrooms.
Contrary to popular belief, mushrooms do, in fact, have nutritional value. Of the eight most popular types, shiitake mushrooms have the most calories, maitake have the most fiber, oyster have the most protein, potassium, and far and away the most Vitamin D. Calories for a single mushroom range from 18 to 47.
There are a number of readily-available kits that are designed to make mushroom growing very easy for the neophyte mushroom cultivator. Some are of the “just add water” type. Some require the mushroom cultivator to add substates for the mushrooms to grown in, such as yard waste newspaper, cardboard, corn cobs, coffee grounds, cardboard, etc. There are kits for growing mushrooms outdoors as well as indoors. Some kits for mushroom cultivation are certified organic.
For outdoor growing, mushroom cultivators need to take care in the choice of location and season in order that the mushroom type they have chosen to cultivate will have proper growing conditions. While indoor kits are generally disposable, outdoor patches are meant to last for several years and can be expanded to include new territory. Mushrooms can, of course, also be cultivated without kits, but this entails a somewhat complicated process in which the cultivator must take care to avoid contaminating the culture.