Making Ready-To-Fruit Blocks
Ready-To-Fruit mushroom blocks are a fast, reliable method for indoor mushroom production. Field and Forest Products sells a variety of Ready-To-Fruit blocks: Grey Dove™ Oyster, Shiitake, Chestnut, Reishi, and Lion's Mane. For those looking to make their own blocks, we offer Grain Masters for inoculating self-prepared substrate. There are many resources that describe the process for producing your own blocks. Below is a brief overview:
Selecting the right substrate for mushroom blocks is important. The standard mix is typically sawdust-based supplemented with added nutrients such as bran, grains, etc. It is important to determine an appropriate mix for the variety you are producing. Some growers elect to use hard wood fuel pellets as the sawdust base. Mushrooms require moisture and air to colonize the substrate, so proper hydration of the raw materials is important. The standard moisture content for mushroom block production is 62% water. The process for mixing the substrate and bagging is dependent on the grower's facilities. The substrate is typically sterilized with pressure and heat prior to inoculation. Most often, growers use a pressure cooker for this step. Autoclavable filter patch bags can withstand the heat and pressure of sterilization, can be sealed to maintain cleanliness, and still allow proper air exchange for the growing culture after inoculation. After sterilization, the substrate is cooled down in a clean area, then inoculated with a grain master. The bag is sealed and left at room temperature to grow. Depending on the inoculation rate, mushroom variety, temperature, and substrate quality, the block may take 2-6 weeks to fully colonize. This is called the incubation phase. Some varieties such as Shiitake, require an additional maturation phase of incubation before they are capable of fruiting mushrooms. Fruiting is typically done indoors in a fruiting room. Ready-To-Fruit blocks may be refrigerated to slow down fruiting, however, storage time is typically limited, especially for some varieties.