A Day in The Life of a Mushroom Picker


Most people like mushrooms with their steak, mushroom soup, and entrees such as stuffed mushrooms. And as they come nicely packaged we don’t need to think too much about how they are gathered.

For those of you who are interested in how a mushroom picker spends their days here is an article about the day in the life of someone who has picked mushrooms for a living.

In a previous life, I was employed as a mushroom picker. Read my account on the life of a mushroom picker and understand why I have changed direction into Affiliate Marketing and completing online Surveys.

The Life Cycle of a Mushroom

In order, to be able to pick mushrooms you need to know all about mushrooms and how they grow.

The Growing Rooms

  • Each room at the mushroom farm has two platforms that stretch from the front of the room to the back for 100 meters.
  • The platforms are raised off the ground on frames, with a space of 1 meter between the top of one platform and the base of the next.
  • The frames are made of 6 platforms each with a depth of 20 centimeters and lined with a mesh to hold the compost.

Growing The Mushrooms

  • The compost is mixed with wheat seeds that contain a mushroom starter spore.
  • A layer of casing peat is placed on top of the compost.
  • The mushroom plant or mycelium grows from those spores like a spider web across the compost and when conditions are right sends the first mushrooms or pins through the peat.
  • The pins are thinned to create growing space for each mushroom as they breach the surface of the peat or casing. The mushrooms grow to become buttons, then cups, then flats.
  • A cup is when the mushroom veil breaks away from the stalk and begins to open.

The eight-week cycle is made up of flushes.

Each flush is approximately 7 days duration. The first pins emerge and over the seven days, the buttons are picked at a medium-size until all mushrooms are removed. The beds rest and the cycle starts again.In ideal conditions, a mushroom will double its size in twenty-four hours.

Depending on how heavily the first crop is thinned determines the size of the mushrooms and the size of the crop of mushrooms.

  • If too few pins or first mushrooms are taken the temperature on the beds gets too warm due to crowding and the small flowers open, making a crop of small flats.
  • This isn’t ideal for the growers as the flats are light and it takes a long time to fill a 4-kilo box with light product. buttons, on the other hand, are full of water and very heavy.

Growing mushrooms is a technical process and the temperature, water, co2, the mixture of compost, and how they are harvested, all determine the rate at which mushrooms grow and the quality of the produce.

So the growing conditions determine whether the mushrooms are heavy or light, have a good color or are stained, are large or small even shaped or crazy organic art that sometimes resembles motor car parts or animals.

Sometimes disease will ruin a whole room full of mushrooms as they are susceptible to all manner of blights spots and bubbles. There are ten Trichoderma species that inhabit mushroom farms and can cause problems.

Being fungi it is competing with other yeasts and fungi to break down the compost and sometimes the competing fungi is more virulent so great they ruin a crop….

white button mushrooms

The Picking Process

Picking mushrooms is incredibly tedious, mind-numbingly boring, dirty, and with extremes of temperature to work in. Sometimes it is way too hot to work comfortably; especially when the harvest is finishing (after the 8 week cycle), the last day of the last flush or last harvest, where the temperatures are raised to be almost unbearable and other times the rooms are cooled to slow a harvest down.

Just picture this: – wielding a knife and climbing up and down ladders, to reach a platform.

  • So here you are standing on a platform 4 meters in the air, using a winch to move up and down the platforms.
  • To move along the face of the frames you pull yourself and your platform along by grabbing the frames supports and pulling.
  • The whole platform is on runners hanging off the top of the frame.
  • The winch allows you to lift your own weight and the weight of boxes of mushrooms.
  • On one side there are seven 4 kilo boxes on a stand connected to the platform, balancing one on top of the other and empty boxes underneath them.
  • Once a box is full and presented nicely with all the buttons sitting carefully in the boxes with no marks or dirt on them, the picker lifts the box turns and places the box on the floor of the platform to be taken away by floor staff that collect full boxes and return with empty boxes.
  • The floor staff also empty and fill buckets as well.
  • A 20-kilo bucket is held in between the pickers legs in which to place the stalks of the mushrooms into and that is how one spends the day.
  • Straddling a bucket, cutting stalks, reaching arm’s length across the mushroom beds and twisting, to place full boxes to the left side on top of each other.

This is a revolting job that is more soul-destroying than being in a production line of chicken boners or apple packers, and where you are working in semi-darkness from 7am to sometimes 6 in the evening. In my view, the sooner this job is automated the better.

My comments relate to the mushroom farm where I was employed and may be different at other farms.

  • The workers are segregated so that men and women don’t work together, men and women don’t have breaks together either, the breaks are taken at separate times.
  • The rooms are artificially lit but there are glimpses of daylight and of course, there is the ten minute morning break and half an hour for lunch where you can sit outside and enjoy eating your lunch away from the smell of the mushroom compost, which is made of pig poo, chicken poo, and straw.
  • The smell is gut-wrenching and the truck with this vile concoction arrives every Wednesday.
  • The management calls it the money truck and its arrival brings the smell of money.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much scope for learning at this mushroom farm and earphones are banned, as one girl learned her university lessons while working at the farm, so the management decided they would not pay for someone to better themselves so that they could leave and banned all personal players.

It is with the greatest relief and excitement that I now embark on an affiliate marketing business. I have witnessed the transformation in thinking of others who are taking this opportunity and the same vision has become my reality too.

I leave mushroom picking behind and embark on a journey to independence and learning. I just signed up for an internet connection.

Now I am working from home, I am my own boss but I am not going to stop myself from learning, growing and achieving and having fun working from home.

Affiliate marketing offers the flexibility and scope for any possibility that you can imagine work life can be. I am turning that imagining into reality. I am enjoying a lifestyle I once only dreamt of and this success is for everyone and anyone who wants to live their lives differently.

Article courtesy of guest author Nia from Survival Wytch and Cooking with Nia