UMDIS agency asked Erik de Groot to tell our readers about imported compost blocks.
All around the world growers can receive phase 3 blocks. Especially in countries where no or just some raw materials to make compost are available, importing phase 3 blocks is than the easiest way to start mushroom farms.
Transport of blocks should always be done with cooling trucks/containers with also enough O2. A lack of oxygen during transport can cause severe damage to the mycelium and I saw arriving trucks full of Phase 3 compost with such a high CO2 that the mycelium in the compost never recovered completely after filling. The temperature during transport is kept on 2 to 5 degrees C to stop the mycelium from growing and generating heat in the blocks. That is a challenge sometimes.
When the compost blocks arrive at the farm, they should be stored in a cool room on 2 degrees C. Also make sure to have fresh air going into the cool room, especially if stored for a longer period. To ensure you always have enough stock, a few weeks of compost must be available as transport can always be delayed and can disturb a consistent growing cycle.
Before filling/casing the compost with a head filler it should be brought up to temperature. When you fill and case the same day you want to heat the compost up before filling, if you case the next day, you have more time to heat the compost up inside the grow room, until the casing day but as sometimes blocks are still frozen you need to get the blocks defrosted to make sure the blocks break open at filling. It is no problem to have frozen blocks, you just need to make sure they go through the filling machine and get mixed in. Depending on the climate at your location you normally get the compost out of the fridge the night before filling to give it the chance to heat up, ideally between 15 and 18 degrees C, so after filling the growing process can start. In extreme high outside temperatures, you can heat the compost up in shadowed places. In cold environments you must find a place to defrost the blocks and fill them into the growing rooms and heat the compost up there.
If you fill without a filling machine and place the blocks directly in the growing room, it is easier to warm them up inside the room. After filling remove the plastic and warm the compost up slowly. Do not go too fast to make sure the compost does not rise too fast, and you are not able to stop it anymore from heating up too much.
The yield and quality with imported phase 3 blocks can be good if managed the right way. Temperature and O2 level are key factors as well as watering. Be careful to overwater at the start when the temperatures are still low but wait for some good activity.
Erik de Groot
Global Agriculture Services