Growing King Oyster
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What Are King
The king oyster or trumpet mushroom belongs to the oyster mushroom genus, pleurotus. It’s the largest oyster mushroom featuring a thick and meaty stem (stipe) which has resulted in it being valued for culinary purposes around the world.
The king oyster is purposefully grown with elevated levels of CO2 to encourage the typical king oyster shape with a large stem and small cap.
The king oyster is a ‘top-fruiting’ species as opposed to the pink, white and yellow oyster species which fruit well from the side.
What Do King Oyster Mushrooms Taste Like?
King oyster mushrooms are thick and meaty with a mild mushroom flavour which sweetens upon cooking. It holds together well during cooking and if often used as a substitute for scallops or other mild flavour meats.
King oyster mushrooms are some of my favourite for cooking with. Either fried, grilled or even in soups. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried some crumbed king oyster mushrooms.
What Substrate Does King Oyster Grow On?
King oyster mushrooms are often found growing wild on dead and decaying hardwood. However, unlike the other oyster species P. eryngii can be mildly parasitic of the roots of herbaceus plants.
In terms of mushroom cultivation the king oyster mushroom can be cultivated on cellulose rich substrates like sugar cane mulch, straw and corn cob however it will perform better yielding more and higher quality fruits when grown on hardwood or a supplemented hardwood mix like masters’ mix.
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Opening A King Oyster Grow Kit
A different approach can be taken when opening a king oyster mushroom grow kit or fruiting block. Due to the top-fruiting nature of this species, the top can of the bag can be removed without need to fold back the plastic bag. This will create a reservoir which will retain CO2.
This species will produce thick meaty stems when grown in higher levels of CO2. The bag can be kept sealed until pins begin forming, making it one of the easiest mushrooms to fruit.
What Is A Casing Layer?
A casing layer is applied to the fully colonised surface of some mushroom species to increase humidity, improve yield and quality of the fruiting bodies.
When cultivating king oyster mushrooms a casing layer is completely optional. There is a slight risk of contamination when applying a casing layer. As an alternative we recommend to lightly scratch the top surface of the grow kit. Without opening the bag use your fingers or the handle of a spoon to scratch against the surface. This will create indentations which will generate the ideal conditions for the formation of king oyster mushroom primordia (pins).
For those who wish to apply a casing layer we recommend to use a mixture of 50% coco-coir and 50% vermiculite with 1% hydrated lime which is rehydrated with boiling water. Once cooled to room temperature a layer can be applied to the fully colonised surface of the substrate.
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King Oyster Mycelium Appearance
King oyster mushroom mycelium is similar in appearance and structure to white oyster mushroom mycelium. The strands of hyphal threads will grow vigorously creating a thick, dense mat of mycelium if left undisturbed.
Like most species the mycelium will be noticeably less visible after agitation however the grain spawn will remain viable and ready for use.
Learn How To Make Grain Spawn
Experienced mushroom cultivators will often produce their own grain spawn to reduce the cost of growing mushrooms. Grain spawn can be produced in small batches without the need for purchasing expensive equipment. Learn more about making grain spawn in our guide.
Using A Humidifier
Humidity can be managed through a diligent misting and fanning regime, however the introduction of a humidifier and humidity controller can help automate the process and ensure consistency.
Adding a 6L humidifier and controller to a greenhouse with the addition of a USB fan is a quick and easy way to make a low cost fruiting chamber that delivers excellent results.
Making A Fruiting Chamber
Mushrooms require humidity to grow. We recommend using a mini-greenhouse. Spraying the inside walls of the greenhouse will help raise humidity. A cheap humidifier can used to automate the process.
It’s important to ensure that the grow kit has fresh air exchange. Mushrooms produce carbon dioxide and will grow long and leggy if they require more oxygen.
Check the product pages for species specific requirements.
Alternatively you can build a Shotgun Fruiting Chamber (SGFC) from a few common items found easily in your local hardware store.
King Oyster Spawn Run
Despite king oyster mushrooms being vigorous, they can be expected to take an additional 1 – 2 weeks after colonisation to prepare for fruiting.
King Oyster Pinning Conditions
The bag may be kept closed until primordia has formed. This will ensure that the substrate remains in a high humidity environment which often results in the largest pin sets.
Keep at temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius (60f) to trigger pinning. Keep humidity over 80% with slightly increased fresh air for the development of primordia.
If using a mushroom grow bag, only the top of the bag needs to be removed. The higher sides will allow for CO2 to pool and develop thicker fruiting bodies with small caps.
Sometimes primordia will form in the humid space between the bag and the grow kit. Taping the sides of the bag firmly to reduce air movement around the base of the block will reduce the formation of undesired primordia. Alternatively, a cut can be made to release these pins to complete growth.
King Oyster Fruiting Conditions
Maintain the mushrooms at temperatures between 15 – 20 degrees Celsius (59 – 68f) for fruiting body development. Humidity may be lowered but should remain above 80%RH.
Excessively high humidity will often result in the mushrooms developing growths or deformations on top of the caps. These growths are an extension of the mushroom fruiting body and can eaten.
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