A mushroom incubator is a room for growing oyster mushroom mycelium in a two-zone growing system.
The process of overgrowing mycelium in the substrate is called incubation.
What repair is needed for the incubator?
The incubator room must be plastered with a cement-based mortar so that the walls are even and smooth. Walls and ceiling can be painted with white facade water-based paint. It is not afraid of moisture and makes the surface of the walls smooth.
Cannot be painted with lime. The walls become rough, with cracks in which moisture easily accumulates and molds multiply.
The floor should be concrete, preferably slightly sloping, with a groove for water drainage. Then it will be easy for you to wash the incubator with a jet of water from a hose or Karcher. If you humidify the room with open humidification nozzles (under the ceiling or on the walls), excess moisture does not accumulate on the floor, flowing into the groove.
If you are making substrate blocks yourself, it is advisable to position the incubator so that it can be accessed directly from the inoculation room.
The second door from the incubator should lead to a corridor or directly to the growing chamber.
At my enterprise, the door led to the yard and we transported the ripe batches for cultivation. Therefore, next to the door there was a window for transferring bags. It was covered with styrofoam and opened only when necessary.
Windows in the incubator can be omitted, since mushroom blocks do not need light when overgrowing.
In the photo: my incubator in the process of repair. To the right of the doorway, you can see a round hole for transferring blocks. On the iron socket, which is higher, we put on a polyethylene air duct. Outside there is a snail fan. To the left of the door, at the top is a round recirculation hole. It goes outside and connects to the fan. On the floor you can see a groove for water to drain.
The enterprise should have several incubators
The most successful option is a room designed to be loaded in blocks at a time. For example, you made (or brought) 500 pieces in one day, set the necessary microclimate parameters, and the whole batch develops evenly, in favorable conditions.
In farms that grow more than 2 tons of mushroom per month, it is desirable to have at least three incubators.
If the blocks are produced on the farm itself, blocks made within five days can be loaded into each incubator.
Then we have a situation that for the more developed batches loaded first, it is already necessary to change the microclimate, but this cannot be done, because the later batches have not yet overgrown. It is necessary to find a compromise variant of microclimate regulation experimentally.
But it’s still better than having only one incubator – because then you will have bags in one room that have just been made and are almost ripe.
In addition, by freeing one of the rooms, you can do preventive chemical treatment before the next load.
How light affects the overgrown oyster mushroom mycelium
I read in articles that light does not affect the overgrowth of mycelium.
However, according to my personal observations, the light still affects. When it was very hot, my ventilation couldn’t keep the blocks cool. I had to open the door at night when it was cool. We closed the door at 11 am. Small spots of trichodremia appeared on the bags that hung near the door. It is on the side facing the light. And it is on these three blocks out of the entire batch of one thousand blocks.
We made the substrate by tunnel pasteurization. After the ninth day, when the party no longer overheated, we closed the doors. The overgrown mycelium covered the spots of trichoderma, and after a while the oyster mushroom mycelium ate the mold. This spot was overgrown with white.
If you process the substrate using hydrothermal technology, then its quality is not stable.
Then it is desirable that the blocks are overgrown in complete darkness. Since without light, the likelihood of germination of Trichoderma spores is much lower. Use black opaque bag wrap if your incubator has windows. At the same time, 10-15% of the substrate must be packed in a transparent film (bag) in order to observe the development of the mycelium.
How to place the bags on the incubation is described here.
How to calculate the area of the incubator and place blocks in it – described in this video on my Patreon channel. This video has good quality English subtitles.
Ventilation system in the incubator
It is desirable that the incubator room has a height of about 3.5 m. It is convenient to install and maintain the ventilation system in such a room.
When calculating ventilation, you need to consider:
- Blocks should not overheat when overgrowing. The temperature in the center of the block should be no more than 32-33C.
- The perforations must not dry out due to insufficient air humidity or strong air flow.
- The temperature difference between the center of the block and the under-film layer should be no more than 7-8 degrees.
The principle of ventilation is the same as in cultivation chambers
The recirculation system collects air, a fresh air pipe of the same diameter is added to it.
This air mixture is fed to the heat exchanger, then the humidifier, and the fan pushes it into the central duct.
Read more about ventilation here.
The only difference is that the nicubator almost always uses only recirculated air. Outside air can be added within 10-20% of the total volume.
How to maintain the temperature in a mushroom incubator
The simplest and most convenient ways are:
- Split system. With its help, you can both cool and heat the incubator room.
- Warm floor. If you live in the south, where winter temperatures rarely drop below 5 degrees below zero, one split is enough. If you have severe frosts in winter, it is better to add heating with warm floors
Read more in the article “Incubation temperature”