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The paddy straw mushroom can be successfully cultivated in the plains of Kerala throughout the year where the temperature ranges between 28-32ºC.
Ten to fifteen kg of well-dried and hand-threshed straw is required to raise a single standard bed. For spawning this bed, two bottles of spawn and about 100 to 150 g of red gram powder are needed. Initially, the straw is made into twists of about 5 to 8 m long and 20-25 cm diameter. The twists are tied into small bundles and are kept immersed in clean water in tanks for about 6 to 12 hours. After this, the bundles are taken out and kept aside for some time to drain the excess water. The bundles are untied and the straightened twists are placed length-wise over the platform in a zigzag fashion. The twists are placed as close as possible. Keep another layer over the first layer crosswise. These two layers form the first layer to be spawned. Break open the spawn bottles and carefully divide the spawn into small bits of 2-2.5 cm thick. Place these bits of spawn all along the periphery of the bed, about 5-8 cm away from the edge and 10 cm apart. Sprinkle a teaspoon full of coarsely powdered red gram powder before and after spawning the first layer. Build the next layer with one row of twist as done before and spawn it. Make successive layers until the straw twists are finished. After placing the last of twists, press the bed thoroughly from the top in order to drain excess water. Make the bed as compact as possible and cover with a transparent polythene sheet to maintain the temperature and relative humidity within the bed. Place another wooden plank over the bed and keep 4-5 bricks above the plank to get more compactness.
The straw beds can be laid out in sheds, veranda of buildings and during summer under shades of trees. Beds should not be kept under direct sunlight. Prepare a raised platform of 1 m long and 0.5 m broad with wooden planks or bricks. Keep the inoculated bed undisturbed for 6-7 days on these platforms. Slowly remove the sheet and observe the moisture level of the straw. If the moisture is excess remove the sheets for half an hour and then cover it again as before. Small white round pinheads appear all along the sides of the bed after 7 days and mature into button and egg stage on 9th day.
Harvest and yield
Harvest the mature sporocarps in egg stage. About 2-3 kg of mushrooms can be harvested from 10 kg of straw. Cropping lasts for 2-3 days. After the harvest, the spent straw can be sun-dried and used as cattle feed.
Instead of twists, the beds can be laid out using small bundles of straw each weighing about one kg. Place four such bundles of straw side by side over the platform with loose ends towards the same direction. Over this, place another four bundles, the loose ends towards the opposite direction. These eight bundles form one layer, which is to be spawned as in the case of twists.