A new variety of commercial Button mushroom spawn, Agaricus Bitorquis, has been introduced for the first time in Kenya by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology’s research laboratory. The new variety of Button mushrooms thrives well in warmer areas.
According to Mr. Patrick Kanyi Muchiri, a research scientist from the University’s Institute of Biotechnology Research (IBR), the variety is most suited to grow and produce desirable yields in warm or hot weather conditions.
Kanyi states that he has for the past two years researched on various soils and found that the months of October and March are ideal seasons for growing this particular mushroom spawn variety because most parts of the country are usually warm.
He, however, singled out Mombasa, Kisumu and the northern parts of Kenya, which experienced either warm or hot weather conditions throughout the year as places where the variety would do tremendously well.
For about four decades now, farmers in Kenya have been able to grow Agaricus Bisphorus, and for the small farmer, this has been a challenge as they are not able to regulate and bring the temperatures down to the required 19oC or 20oC to enable them get the desired yields, save for the large scale farmers who are able to do so.
Mr. Kanyi points out that although the characteristics of the new Button mushroom variety (Agraricus Bitorquis) was the same as Agaricus Bisphorous, i.e. in terms of its pasteurization, incubation which ranges from between 23oCand 30oC, the difference is found in the fruiting stage which occurs at 5oC above the Agaricus Bitorquis despite the fact that the fruit body looks the same.
Mr. Kanyi further reveals that the taste of the new variety is superior to that of Bisphorous and it is also quite resistant to mushroom diseases such as fungal, bacterial and viral.
“The new variety has better handling characteristics as it has a longer shelf life and therefore, suitable to the small scale farmers who do not have good facilities for preservation,” stated Mr. Kanyi.
The two commercial button mushroom spawn are now readily available at the University’s Research, Production and Extension Unit. Other types of mushroom spawn available at the university’s laboratories include Shiitaki and Reishi, both of which are grown for medicinal purposes, and oyster.