Book Review

Handbook for Commercial Mushroom Growers
Edited by Paul J. Wuest

Cover: Handbook for Commercial Mushroom Growers

Recently several readers have asked for some information on Agaricus bisporus because of an interest in growing portabella. Handbook for Commercial Mushroom Growers is actually a three-ring notebook filled with "A compendium of scientific and technical information useful to mushroom farmers." As such it is aimed at commercial Agaricus growers specifically. It covers all the details on everything from biochemical aspects of compost preparation to diseases and pests to managing the watering of your crop.

The largest portion of the book addresses diseases and pests and how to deal with them using Penn State's Integrated Pest Management approach. Many papers are illustrated with black and white photos, graphs and charts. A series of color plates are included in the back of the book. The color plates illustrate the effects of a wide variety of mushroom diseases. In combination the photos and accompanying paper will help you identify and deal with the causes of most mushroom production problems.

There is also a paper dealing with insect pests. It will help you identify the insect you are seeing and help you eliminate it.

Much of the answer to pest problems lies in proper preparation of the composted substrate for Agaricus bisporus. In fact, the presence of competing fungi are often used to identify problems in the compost. You'll find the details in the book. After dealing with pests, most of the rest of the book deals with substrate and casing preparation. Just a few of the paper titles will give you the idea:

Is this book for you? If you want to grow Agaricus (white, brown, crimini, portabella etc., it's THE essential reference and, yes, it is for you. If you are growing exotic species the composting information will have no utility. Stamet's book The Mushroom Cultivator offers a lot of information on mushroom pests - it may be all you need. If you have a mushroom pest and can't get a handle on what it is or any idea on how to deal with it, this book may come in quite handy.