Italian mushroom cultivation has changed over the past few years thanks to modern agronomic practices that are increasingly adapted to the demands of final clients. Consumption was on the up before the Covid-19 pandemic, and so was production. But something changed, at least in Sicily.
"We are worried, as the health crisis modified consumption. With Covid-19, the trend shifted to products with wider uses and mushrooms have been relegated to a secondary role. This is why we decided not only to start the 2020/21 season a bit later, but also to stagger production," explains Gianni Gambino.
Production will start in November "also to avoid the undesired effects (i.e. plant diseases) deriving from the warm temperatures."
Gianni Gambino, owner of Az. Agr. Funghitaly
"It is also increasingly difficult to find good-quality substrates, even when paying in advance, as PH, Nitrogen and Humidity variables often do not correspond to the values we require. We need pH that is almost neutral, slightly alkaline, while nitrogen must be around 1-1.5% and humidity around 70%. These are the perfect conditions, but suppliers often do not meet the parameters we need."
"We pay for what we order, not to receive something else. We are working to send substrate samples to a laboratory that can ascertain the specifications of the material so as to make a claim. It may seem strange, but businesses can make complaints too when they are not pleased about supplies, it is not only supermarkets that can do that."
The company produces Pleurotus Ostreatus (oyster mushrooms) Pleurotus Eryngii (king trumpet mushrooms), poplar mushrooms (Cyclocybe aegerita) and branched oyster mushrooms(Cornucopiae). In 2019, it produced and commercialized approximately 115thousand kg of mushrooms but volumes dropped heavily in 2020. Crops cover 6400 sq m.
"Covid permitting, we will try to push production in the winter months so as to recover our turnover. We cannot risk nullifying the efforts made in previous years. Caution and common sense must prevail these days, especially for a family business such as ours."
The company covers 6400 sq m and just over half of the total area is destined to mushroom cultivation. 95% of the beds are used to grow Pleurotus Ostreatus. "This year, the average price is €2.40/kg."
Az. Agr. Funghitaly di Gianni Gambino
96011 Augusta (SR)
Tel.: +39 3271994490