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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Flat Aggie visits J-M Mushroom Farm

            I got to visit J-M Mushroom Farm in Miami, OK.   J-M Farms is the only commercial mushroom farm in Oklahoma. They are family owned and have been in business since 1979.  J-M has a large central facility where packing, shipping, composting and the beginning stages of growing occur.  There are also five satellite farms where most of the harvesting occurs.  They supply mushrooms to 8 states.  J-M Farms grows white button mushrooms, crimini or baby brown mushrooms, and portabella or large brown mushrooms.  They grow about 27 million pounds per year.
            When I arrived at J-M Farms, I had to be signed in as a visitor.  I received my visitor’s badge, hairnet, gloves, rain suit, and smock that I would need for my visit.  They are very serious about food safety here!   


            Growers, Lisa, Susan, and Beth, showed me around the farm and taught me about growing mushrooms. I didn’t realize how much time went into growing mushrooms.  From the time the compost or the “food” starts being made to when they put the spawn or “seed” in takes about 32 days.  Then after the “seed” goes into the compost it takes about 28 days to get a mushroom.

            The first process in growing mushrooms is making the compost or mushroom food.  This takes place outside, whether hot or cold.  The day I was out there it was 32 degrees.  The basic ingredient of compost is wheat straw.  It also contains gypsum, chicken litter, and cotton seed meal.   
These ingredients are mixed together, watered, flipped, and set in a pile to break down.  They do this with front end loaders and specialized compost turners.  This process utilizes naturally occurring microbes, or bacteria, to convert these raw ingredients into mushroom food.  The composting process takes 24 days.  After the 24 days, the compost is placed on the fill line and put into trays and moved into the building for the next phase.

            The next step is eight days long.  It involves the compost being pasteurized.  During pasteurization, the air and compost is heated to 140 degrees to kill any bacteria that will make mushrooms or people sick.           

After the 8 days, the next step is adding the mushroom spawn or seed.   

The compost is dumped out of the trays on a line that mixes it and adds the “seed”.  It is then put back in the trays and pressed. 

Then it goes into a spawn room where the compost temperature and air temperature will be monitored so that the mushroom seed can grow.  It is in this room for 13 days.

             The trays are then pulled out of the spawn room and put on another line where the casing layer is applied to the surface of the trays.  Casing layer is made of black peat, blonde peat, lime, and CI (casing inoculate).  The CI is added to the layer to help the mushroom grow.  This layer looks like a layer of dirt on top of the trays.  This is what the mushroom will grow out of and be picked from.  The trays are then placed in a setback room where the compost temperature and air temperature are monitored and water is applied.  They are in this room for 11 days.

            On day 12, the trays are then transferred to the picking hall or a satellite farm to be harvested or picked. 

            In the picking room, the compost temperature and air temperature are monitored and more water is applied.  On day 16 or 17 after casing, the mushrooms will be ready to be picked.  The harvesters pick the mushrooms by hand into the containers that have been ordered by J-M Farms’ customers. 

            Then the mushrooms go to the CPM (Crop Production Measurement) department to be weighed and scanned. 

            The sales department gets orders from customers and gives them to the packing and shipping department.

Then they are transferred to the packing department to be packaged.

 They also slice mushrooms in the packing department.

The packing department then transfers the packages to the shipping department.

Then they will be shipped out to stores and restaurants in the 8 states that J-M supplies.

                             Check your local stores for any J-M products.

Thank you so much to the staff at J-M Farms.  I really had no idea what went into mushroom farming when I asked if Flat Aggie could have tour.  -A Kansas Farm Mom

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