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Mushroom shortages caused by production challenges

Record-setting summer temperatures that continue into the fall have affected mushroom yields, resulting in shortages across the country. With the main impact being felt by growers in southeastern Pennsylvania, where 64 percent of the nation’s mushrooms are grown, it is likely that every region of the country will be affected. Shortages are already being seen, and the increase in demand around the holidays will put more strain on an already tight market.

Even though mushrooms are grown indoors in climate-controlled, specially designed buildings, the foundation for production starts with the growing medium — the substrate or compost — which contains the nutrients needed to produce a crop. The composting process takes place outdoors where high temperatures and dry conditions can affect this process, which produces the substrate to be used in the coming weeks or months to grow mushrooms.

The compost generated this summer is now being used in the growing houses and many farms are reporting reduced yields. This, coupled with increased demand, has created a situation where some shippers are facing a challenge of fully meeting orders.

The weather and compost quality issues are only a regional problem, but the increase in holiday demand reaches across the country. The holiday cooking season produces a 20 to 30 percent increase in demand for fresh mushrooms, according to a major shipper. Every grower in the mushroom-farming community is doing everything possible to supply customers during this challenging time of demand outpacing supply, according to growers and shippers in the southern Pennsylvania area.