Today it’s almost impossible to determine when and in which country mushrooms were first cultivated. Some authors point out that the production of mushrooms began in France. Others think that the idea of cultivating mushrooms belongs to Italians, and the French adopted their experience later on. The most interesting version belongs to Peter Vedder, author of the book called «Modern Mushroom Cultivation»
, the Netherlands, year 1978, and many scientific transactions on mushroom cultivation. He points out that mushrooms were first cultivated in 1650 in the vicinities of Paris. Farmers noticed, perhaps by pure accident, that some mushrooms are growing on spent compost (on hotbeds used to cultivate melons), where melons were cultivated. They also noticed that there are more mushrooms in places where the manure was watered with the water in which mushrooms were washed. They didn’t know the reason for this, so they just noted this phenomenon and continued to work by practical consideration. They discovered that mushrooms can be grown in gardens on mule and donkey manure, when watered with the water in which ripe mushrooms from the melon beds was washed. «Field mushrooms are impossible to grow in a garden» wrote Bonnefonce in 1651.
In 1707, a French botanist Turnefore described a method of mushroom cultivation with the use of horse manure, in which mushrooms have grown before, as a sowing material for a freshly prepared substrate.
In 1731, the French method of cultivation was transferred to England due to Miller’s publication of «Gardener’s Manual». The German translation of this book was published in 1769.
In 1754, Lundberg, a Swede, described constructions in which mushrooms can be cultivated the whole year round.
In 1865, the mushroom culture was transferred from England to USA; the first mushrooms there were cultivated in small amounts. And in 1870, mushroom industry began to develop. That way, the mushroom culture was spread all over the world.
In Russia, mushroom cultivation began in the middle of the XVIII century. In 1780, an article of a famous Russian horticulturist and agronomist A.T. Bolotov was published in the economical shop magazine; it was called «Something about mushrooms».
There’s evidence that in the 20s of the XIX century farmer Osinin cultivated mushrooms in small amounts in rooms, especially built for this purpose.
From the year 1848, a famous trucker from Saint-Petersburg E.A. Grachev began the industrial mushroom cultivation. In 1860-1861, he published articles about mushroom cultivation in the «Russian Horticulture Community Herald».
For three centuries mushroom cultivation has passed a long way of development. The cultivation methods and techniques gradually developed. Formerly, compost overgrown with mycelium from former beds was used as a sowing material. Surely enough, many diseases occurred and the farmer didn’t always have a good yield with this method. In the end of the XIX century a method of obtaining mycelium as a «pure culture» from the spores of the cultivated Agaricus Bisporus, was found. Frenchmen Constantin and Matroushot were the first who were able to make mushrooms propagate by spores. This method was held in secret. But in 1902, an American researcher Fergusson published all details of spore propagation and mycelium growth.
In 1905, Douggarou, an American, obtained mycelium from a mushroom cap’s tissue. As a result, companies that engage industrial mycelium production appeared in America in the beginning of the 20th century. Mycelium was delivered to mushroom growers in bottles filled with sterilized compost overgrown with mycelium. A big advantage was that the mushroom grower knew what kind of mushroom to expect beforehand. Furthermore, the use of disease free mycelium decreased the risk of yield loss.
In 1932, Sinden patented a method of preparation of grain mycelium, and at the same time, he began developing new mushroom strains.
Another important step forward was the division of the composting process into two phases by Lambert, an American. Phase two – pasteurization – was carried out in the growing room. That helped obtain compost free of pests and diseases. A little later, researchers Sinden and Hauser developed a method of «short» composting, which is used all over the world today.
Further information on the history of mushroom study from ancient Greeks to nowadays, can be learned from a wonderful book, written by a mycologist famous in our country – professor Lydia Vasilievna Garibova «The mushroom kingdom»
,«Priboy» Moscow, 1998. In this book, an interested reader will find detailed description of the history of edible mushroom cultivation, and also a lot of information and advices concerning cultivation, treatment and storage of mushrooms.
Today, the world production of cultivated mushrooms reaches almost 4 million tons a year. This mushroom is cultivated in many countries of Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa and Australia. For that, pilot stations were created along with scientific research institutes and consultation centers where research efforts are carried out and where mushroom cultivation specialists are trained and consultation help is given to mushroom industries. In order to manage these actions almost in every country, that has a mushroom industry, there are mushroom growers’ associations.
In Russia, there are some specialized farms for mushroom cultivation which produce about 7 thousand tons of mushrooms in a year. Whether it’s too much or too little, you decide. For comparison, Poland, one of the «youngest» countries in mushroom business produces much more than 100000 tons of mushrooms in a year. And a significant part of these mushrooms is sold in Russia.
In our country the mushroom production is making its first steps. We remained behind the more developed countries in this field of agriculture as in the other fields. Nevertheless, lately, the number of people in Russia who wish to engage this interesting and profitable business, grows. Every year, more private little farms for mushroom cultivation are created, laboratories that work on mycelium production are developed, and a few years ago, the first compost factory was built, it specializes in compost production.
We want to believe, that in the near future, Russian mushrooms will not only be on the tables of Russian people, but also the people from other countries. And we hope that this website will help with the solution of this problem.