For 50 years now, the Deckers family has been involved in the production and marketing of high-quality mushrooms. With meanwhile several own cultivations and two marketing locations in Geldern and Bürstadt as well as a weekly total volume around 500 tons of white and brown mushrooms, the group of companies belongs today to the leading suppliers of the German food retail trade. As part of this year's German Fruit and Vegetable Congress (DOGK), participants were given an insight into mushroom cultivation during a tour of the company's headquarters in Geldern.
The main purpose of Rheinische Pilz-Zentrale is to offer German food retailers the complete range of cultivated and wild mushrooms from a single source. "At the main site in Geldern, up to 260 tons (Class 1 mushrooms) a week are produced, while at the Hessian cultivation facility in Bürstadt, about 110 tons, or half, are harvested each week. Interestingly, more brown mushrooms are produced in the south, as the demand for browns is higher relative to the north. Today, about 65 percent of the total production volume in Bürstadt consists of brown mushrooms," outlines Alfred Evers, authorized signatory and sales manager at the company.
View of the mushroom bed. The company has a total of about 700 employees.
View of the cultivation cell: The entire cultivation period takes a total of about four weeks from the first cultivation room to harvesting. Cultivation takes place on six levels. During the traditional summer lull, it sometimes happens that the lower beds are not filled.
Andreas Joisten, cultivation manager of Marco Deckers KG, gave us his insights into the path of the cultivated mushrooms. Each individual bed is usually harvested in two waves. The substrate and covering soil could theoretically be used a third time, but the risk of disease would then be too high. The latest premises are equipped with the advanced edging system to make harvesting work more efficient. RPZ estimates that it will be years before the cultivated mushrooms can be harvested fully automatically, as the technology is not yet fully developed.
Andreas Joisten led the participants through the farm and the different phases of mushroom cultivation.
Alfred Evers gave insights into mushroom distribution during his presentation.
Packed white mushrooms of the fine grade. Packed mushrooms are mainly in 250/300/400 gram trays, after which they are disposed and distributed in the proven, blue reusable crate.
Left: Front view of a mushroom bed. The cultivated mushrooms grow on substrate and cover soil.
Right: After harvesting, the mushrooms are cooled down from 17 to about six degrees in a special blast chiller. The delicate mushrooms would otherwise not survive the temperature difference.