In China, for 1 kilogram of shiitake, the producer gets 1 dollar 20 cents. In Europe – from $6 (and a kilogram of shiitake can cost over $16 in the supermarket). So, in China, the champignon producers get bigger margin – while in Europe, the shiitake producers. One log of substrate from Exotic Mushroom Center in Europe now costs $1.9 net, usualy producers get 06.-0.7 kg of mushrooms from a log.
Depending on the size of production, people employed, tariffs for water and electricity – the margin per kilogram of exotic mushrooms can be $0.3-0.9 per kilogram, at a time when the margin of champignon producers, for example in Poland, is more or less $0.15 per kilo.
– In fact, it remains only to find customers for shiitake. But if you are a mushroom farm and you sell to the West – looking for customers for shiitake will be nice and pleasant for you. That is why mushroom producers are starting to produce shiitake, – explains Piotr Rubacha from the Exotic Mushroom Center – the largest company in Poland that produces shiitake and sells Chinese substrate for their cultivation.
Champignon mushroom growing rooms are perfect for shiitake production, and are even too good. If you would like to build rooms specifically for shiitake or use rooms that you already have – you will be really surprised how little equipment is needed for this. Generally, racks, a fan, pomp – and that’s it. So, to arrange a hall for shiitake is significantly cheaper than for mushrooms.
– Shiitake cultivation technology is very easy. You wouldn’t even need growing chard. Less hygiene is needed for shiitake because they have strong immunity. We do not use any plant protection products in our production, we do not have to carry out any chemical disinfection of the halls, there is no cooking or gassing of the room after the end of the cycle. Even flies are not a problem, because it is not so that if there is one fly in the room, then half of the room will have to be thrown away. And if we see green mold somewhere – we can simply ignore it, because it will not go around the room.
Another advantage over the comparison is that shiitake don’t have to be harvested with a one-touch policy. There are no traces even when we get shiitake from the boxes, cut the roots and put them in trays and repackage them.
Why in Western Poland?
Most shiitake producers in Poland are located in the West of the country. One reason is that it is closer to the richer markets of Western Europe, which consume more exotic mushrooms. However, Piotr Rubacha from Exotic Mushroom Center, knows the thoughts of his customers to whom he sells the substrate, and also knows another reason.
– A lot of mushroom producers turned to shiitake, because that was no longer profitable to produce champignon mushrooms. In this region there are many old, small farms that cannot compete with large producers from Eastern Poland, – explains Piotr. – They have a higher production cost, they are not that efficient, they cannot produce so good quality mushrooms, because for good quality mushrooms you need a good climate and good control computers. And the production of shiitake is easier, this mushroom is less demanding. While the margin per kilogram is higher. You also become a better supplier when you can offer your customers different types of mushrooms. So, if you do not want to invest in the development of your mushroom farm – shiitake is a good business idea.
Piotr says that he is happy to show mushroom growers the production of Exotic Mushroom Center in Głogów – and tells how to grow shiitake and what is the cost of production, margins on those mushrooms. In those rooms in Głogów, 3.5 – 4 tons of shiitake are produced per week.
Shiitake and eringii
Two months ago, Exotic Mushroom Center also started growing eryngii. They make good quality mushrooms for sale – but tell their customers who buy substrate from them that it is much easier to grow shiitake than eringii.
– In the production of eringii, things can easily go wrong – and you can lose a whole batch. Then, as with shiitake, if you have a good substrate and pour water – you just can’t spoil the crop, – says Piotr Rubacha.
The shiitake cultivation technology is easier than for eringii. When cultivating eringii – it is important to keep the parameters, pay attention to hygiene.
– If you do not have a lot of knowledge about how to grow exotic mushrooms, you do not want to learn hard and it is an additional activity for you to champignon mushroom production – it is better to choose shiitake. Because there’s less chance to make a mistake. Eringii are more demanding, – explains Piotr.
It is important that the cultivation of eringii is more labour-intensive. You must first remove the plug on each bag with the substrate, slightly unwind the foil. Then unroll the foil completely – then cut the mushroom properly, put them nicely into trays. Pickers must be careful as this type of mushroom is more delicate.
Ordinary mushroom farms have quite large rooms where they want to grow exotic mushrooms. Climatic parameters at different stages of eringii cultivation must be different – as for champignons. So, it’s not like shiitake – where you can have the first and second flushes in the same room. As you can see in the video below – the racks of shiitake 1st and 2nd flushes are standing next to each other and it doesn’t bother the crop at all. It would be impossible with the eringii. So, if you have large halls – you would have to grow large amounts of eringii, or senselessly cool and heat a half-empty room. Eringii are not yet very popular, so it is not very easy to sell a some tons at a time in Poland – if you load the entire large hall.
– Here comes the second point that shiitake is so great that they can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks and nothing happens to them. However, you would have to send eringii on the same day or within a few days after harvesting, because they lose quality quickly, – says Piotr Rubacha.
The production cost of shiitake is lower than the production cost of eringii. Although the substrate for them is more expensive – the yield from the log is bigger.
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