Mushroom Integrated Pest Management

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In this handbook we have addressed the most important pest organisms with the potential to reduce mushroom yield and quality. The handbook is intended for growers, as well as researchers, as both an educational tool and a reference manual. Recommendations presented here are not intended to bind growers in their decision-making processes. Rather, they should serve as a guide for developing effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs. Each grower should develop specific operating procedures and checklists specifically tailored for individual use. In addition, as technology is always changing, this handbook will be updated periodically.

The handbook is divided into two parts, covering the theory of IPM and the practical aspects of IPM in mushroom growing. The theory section defines IPM and gives it historical perspective. It also explains the concepts of pest management and types of control, and the importance of understanding pest life cycles and biology. The section on IPM in mushroom growing describes how unique features of mushroom crops can be used effectively in IPM, and how the theory of IPM can be applied effectively.

Mushroom growing lends itself naturally to IPM. It is one of the few forms of agriculture in which the crop is grown inside climate-controlled buildings. This offers two advantages not available to most other crops. First, control of the internal environment of the growing room provides an important weapon against many pests. Temperature and humidity manipulations, for instance, are two of many cultural options available in mushroom pest control with IPM. Second, since the crop is grown indoors, pests can be excluded. This control measure is unavailable to farmers of field crops, who have little control over pest invasion. An effective IPM program takes advantage of these particular characteristics of mushroom growing.

Other features of mushroom production make IPM a necessity, not an option. With production measured in pounds per square foot rather than in bushels or tons per acre, mushroom growing is very dense farming. If a pest gets into a room, it can spread rapidly because of the large amount of food available within a relatively small space. In addition, many pests cannot be controlled using chemical pesticides, either because there are no products labeled for mushroom use, or because materials don’t even exist for a specific type of pest organism. Increased regulations are driving up the cost of producing new pesticides, making it difficult or impossible for chemical manufacturers to invest in a minor-use crop like mushrooms. Usually, we are forced to rely on pesticides developed for other commodities. An IPM program that excludes pests and takes advantage of the ability to manipulate the growing environment not only is a more effective means of pest control but also allows limited dependency on chemical pesticides.

These features make the IPM approach the most effective and economical means of long-term sustainable pest control. Anyone trying to control pests without IPM eventually will end up at the mercy of those arthropods and mushroom diseases. We hope this manual will help you avoid that fate.

P. Coles
S. Fleischer
W. Barber
D. Rinker
S. Whitney
C. Keil
D. Beyer
P. Wuest
P. Romaine
The Pennsylvania State University