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‘Live long - eat mushrooms!’

This was one of the slogans heard on Saturday 5th March 2005 at the annual congress of the Provinzialverband Rheinischer Obst- und Gemüsebauer e.V. Landesfachgruppe Kulturpilzanbau. This annual meeting of mushroom growers from the Rheinland region in Germany featured lectures as well as a visit to the Laps mushroom farm.

Published in Mushroom Business 10, April 2005

By Mark den Ouden, C point and

Jos Hilkens AdVisie ‘the mushroom cultivation advisors'

At the Laps farm in Kempen, around 15 kilometres from the Dutch/German border at Venlo, visitors were welcomed with drinks and refreshments. The farm has seven growing rooms with in total 1450 square metres of growing surface. Four growing rooms were built in 1986, two in 2000 and one in 2003.
Harald Laps uses a six-week schedule and harvests three flushes. The compost incubated with spawn A15 is supplied by Walkro in Maasmechelen (Belgium). Topterra casing soil type plus is used, moisture level 7. The beds are filled with around 92 kg/m2 of compost and cased with 4.8 m3 casing soil per 100 square metres. Micro-perforated film is laid under the compost.

Tuesday is filling day and on Saturday the last water is applied. Blow down starts on Monday evening. The first flush is harvested from Monday to Thursday; the second flush a week later from Tuesday to Friday, and the third flush another week later from Tuesday to Saturday. On average 30.5 kilo is yielded per square metre with 94 % quality I mushrooms. Ten Polish pickers are responsible for harvesting. The majority of the mushrooms are picked as fine grade. The mushrooms are marketed via Rheinland Champignons in Geldern-Pont. The afternoon continued in Wachtendonk with a series of lectures.
Dr. Walter Fischer of QS GmbH from Bonn, explained the importance of certification of farms during his presentation. If any problems occur with mushrooms, the trade channels can trace the origin of that particular batch. The better this system of traceability, the fewer mushrooms need to be removed from the market. In the event of any problems the trader can identify which grower supplied the mushrooms in question. Supermarkets increasingly demand that suppliers are certified, so they can guarantee tracking and tracing procedures. Nearly all the farms in the Rheinland are already certified, the rest are on the way to obtaining the certificates.

Mark den Ouden from C point spoke on behalf of BVB Euroveen on the subject of ‘Correct treatment of casing soil in mushroom growing’. This process starts at the company producing the casing soil. In order to treat casing soil correctly, it's important to know exactly what kind of product you are buying as a grower. He explained the production process, the various types of peat and the quality a grower requires to grow good mushrooms. The quality of casing soil doesn't just depend on how it is supplied by a casing soil producer, but also on how it is handled during filling (se article on page ..).

According to speaker Prof. Dr. Jan I. Lelley, mushroom growers should take greater advantage of the health properties of mushrooms. Ask the average person in the street why they eat fruit and vegetables and the answer is more than often : ‘because they're tasty and healthy..’. Asked why they eat mushrooms, people are likely to say: ‘because they're tasty..’. Mushrooms are low in calories, beneficial for people with joint problems. Mushrooms contain little glucose, so are ideal nutrition for diabetes patients. Mushrooms are relatively natrium poor (good for high blood pressure!) and rich in vitamins (B-2, B-6, D, K and others). Mushrooms also contain substances that help prevent intestinal problems. Plus, they contain a range of valuable minerals (potassium, phosphorus, iron and others) and trace elements (such as zinc, selenium, copper and others). He closed with a punchy sales slogan that in his view should be preached worldwide: Live long - eat mushrooms!

Mr. Einer Schmidt of the Landwirtschafkammer Nordrhein-Westfalen spoke on a number of current issues including champost and the progress concerning implementation of the Q&S quality assurance system at growers. Peter Muß of the Provincialverband explained the changes made to the guidelines for housing pickers and social insurance for seasonal workers. He also talked about employing Polish pickers on short-term contracts and warned about the eventual consequences of selling mushrooms on stalks.