Fruiting period. Pinhead initiation, mushroom pinning and mushrooms growth parameters.
STEP 10. Day 26-33. Pinhead initiation. Growing parameters for Psilocybe Cubensis
In the previous section, we've already made growbox for mushroom fruiting and briefly discussed the necessary conditions for pinning.
Now let's take a look at how your mycelium on the cakes will change in the following days after being placed in the growbox. What factors affect fruiting and yield? What could have gone wrong at this step?
Mushroom Life Cycle
The change from the vegetative state (mycelial growth) to the generative one (primordia and fruit bodies formation) is called pinning, pin setting, pinhead initiation or fructification.
Pinheads and primordia are knots of mycelium that proceed their development into small mushrooms.
All species require a set of environmental conditions for pinning. They are quite different from the conditions for mycelial growth. By understanding the factors that regulate this change in the mushroom life cycle cultivator can control the pinning process.
In nature primordia formation is primarily influenced by seasonal changes in environmental conditions. In temperate climates most mushrooms fruit during cool, wet autumn fall whereas in tropical and subtropical climates mushrooms fruit during the rainy season.
The fruiting period ends when the season changes and environmental conditions become too hot, too cold, or too dry. Then mycelium goes dormant or grows slowly. It is reactivated only when the humidity rises and the temperature is suitable for fruiting.
Unfavorable seasons are times for expanding mycelium network, absorb nutrients and restore energy reserves. As soon as autumn's cool wet conditions (or tropical rains) return these reserves are used for supporting new mushroom harvest.
Basic principles of pin setting
Mushrooms fruit indoors in response to the same conditions that trigger fruiting in the wild.
Most of cultivated mushrooms need for fruiting:
✅ lower temperature than optimal for mycelium growth. Usually, a drop in temperature is accompanied by rain or increase in humidity.
✅ high humidity is necessary for the absorption of nutrients by the fungus. And vaporous water creates a humid microclimate, which is so important for developing pins (pinheads).
✅ pins and primordia have low CO2 tolerance and need fresh air exchange (FAE).
✅ although mycelium does not need light, light-sensitive species need light to initiate pin setting and to mature into healthy fruit bodies.
🔴 Knotting and mushroom development proceed if all these factors coincide!
Changing any of these factors can slow down or stop growing process at all. Therefore, the grower must accurately control the conditions in the growbox during this critical period.
Fruiting parameters for Pinning and Primordia formation
After placing mushroom cakes in the growbox for the first days the mycelium will stop growing. It will cover slowly the loosely occupied areas of the substrate with its fluff. But these will be white new mycelium with an accompanying pleasant mushroom smell.
The first 2 weeks control the constant microclimate in your growbox or fruiting chamber!
❇️ Optimum air temperature in the growbox is +21°..+23°C or 70-74°F
The permissible range is +20°..+25°C or 68-77°F. At the lower limit start and growth may slow down. On the top, there is a risk of activating pathogens and mycelium can switch back to the vegetative phase and provoke overlay. Keep in mind mycelium itself heats up during the growing process. Temperature in the substrate will be 1-2° higher.
At this point, it will be sufficient to continue cultivation at room temperature. Of course, it depends on the temperature in your home. In the harsh winter months heating may be needed (the same as for the incubator). During summer months, it can be too hot and and you'll need cooling/air conditioning.
Control and measure temperature with an ordinary thermometer.
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❇️ Relative humidity (RH) 95-100%
To maintain required humidity level spray the walls of the growbox 1-2 times a day. Use spray bottle. Never pour or spray water directly on the mycelium and mushrooms.
Control cover layer of mushroom cake. It should be moist.
You can use humidifier or misting fogger. It can be programmed according to the intensity and frequency of spraying to maintain a constant humidity in the range of 95-100%. Use hygrometer or 2-in-1 hygrometer with thermometer to measure the relative humidity level. If there is no hygrometer condensation on the walls of the growbox is your simplest and most reliable sensor.
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❇️ Fresh air exchange (FAE) and CO2 level no more than 600-800 ppm
As you know mushrooms breathe oxygen and emit carbon dioxide. After lowering the temperature, the mycelium will adapt to the new conditions, the growth of the mycelium will slow down and it will emit a little less carbon dioxide until fruiting "turns on".
But at this stage, it is necessary to ventilate the growbox 3-5 times a day. It is enough just to open the growbox for 3-5 minutes and make a few light strokes of the lid or cardboard over the cakes. The smaller the growbox and the more cakes, the more often your mushrooms need FAE.
🔴 All contaminants prefer stagnant air, while mushroom mycelium prefers fresh moving air. There is one more reason why you should provide growbox with FAE.
You can use an aquarium air pump for this on a regular basis.
There is an aquarium stone at the end of the air pump hose, which must be dipped into water. In this way we filter incoming air and maintain humidity automatically.
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❇️ CO2 detector or all-in-one Air Quality Monitor can be used for measuring carbon dioxide level, relative humidity and temperature.
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For a rough comparison normal outdoor CO2 level is 400-450 ppm. 600-800 ppm is the CO2 level in unventilated room where several people breathe.
❇️ Light 12 hours on/off cycle
Mushroom species that require light to form pins are considered photosensitive. Although light is not necessary for the induction of fruiting in fungi, some spectra have been found to be stimulating for the initiation of pins and are essential for the normal development of the fruiting body.
For example, Psilocybe Сubensis and Panaeolus are such photosensitive species.
🔬 A thorough investigation on the photosensitivity of Psilocybe Cubensis can be found in a master's thesis by E.R. Badham (1979). His work reinforces the conclusions of other researchers working with the Basidiomycetes: more pinheads are initiated upon exposure to blue and ultra-violet light with distinct peaks at 370, 440 and 460 nanometers.
🔬 Badham showed that light stimulation at these wavelengths for as little as half a millisecond per day caused primordia to form. In contrast, red, infra-red and green light having wavelengths greater than 510 nanometers were ineffective.
🔴 Natural light is suitable, but only diffused soft light. Avoid direct sunlight!
The optimal lighting cycle for psilocybin mushrooms during the pinhead initiation is 12 on/off cycle. Light should be of a white-blue spectrum (~435-480 nm).
Diode LED lamp (cold white light) is suitable. No need to use powerful lamps for plants. Light is only an additional stimulant and sets the direction of mushrooms growth.
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❇️ To improve your growing process and make automated air conditions monitoring in growbox you can use different sensors, timers and all sorts of gadgets. It's up to you. The sky is the limit!
Great thing to use is Smart Plug, so that you can connect all your devices with Remote Control that helps to be informed and change growing conditions from anywhere! Most of them are compatible with Alexa, Echo & Google Home.
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Smart Plug, Smart Home - 2 Pack - $14.69
Mini Smart Plug - 2 Pack - $16.99
Pinning (knotting) and primordia examples
All this meditation take up to 2 weeks. As a rule, the first flush of fruiting starts on the 7-12th day.
During the first days in the growbox it seems like mycelium completely stop growing. It's okay, because mycelium needs some adaptation period to new conditions. It can form new small threads or small clouds.
In the first stage (after 7-10 days) you can notice how the mycelium thread are woven into small balls.
At the second stage (after 7-14 days) nodules are formed from these small snow-white balls. These are the very pins (pinheads). Then pins are transformed into primordia, which continue its transformation into fruit bodies — full- grown mushrooms.
Pins and primordia formation can be faster. In the photo below, the 28th day after inoculation and only 4 days in the growbox. You can see small pins and some primordia on the mushroom cake. Although the mycelium didn't cover the entire casing layer tightly, in fact, such mycelium (rhizomorphic type) is ideal!
The relationship between primordia formation and yield
The pinning and primordia period is extremely important stage. Certain relationships exist between the pinning process and yields:
📍 During the primordia formation period, pinheads for the first and second flush are being generated.
About 60-75% of the total yield is normally harvested from the first two flushes. That's why the first 7-14 days in growbox for pinhead initiation are the most critical in the growing of mushrooms.
📍 The greater the number of pins set for the first flush, the higher the yield.
However, with more pinheads competing for the same nutrient base, the smaller are the mushrooms arising from it. Fewer pinheads result in larger mushrooms, but lower total yields.
📍 The substrate will only support the development of a certain number of primordia per flush.
Under normal circumstances with an even pin-set, pinheads may "abort" because of insufficient nutrients or late formation.
📍 Pins that form early delay the growth of neighboring primordia.
This can often be seen along the boundaries of the substrate container where primordia form or along the edges of the cake. At the same time, the rest of the mushroom cake remains completely bald. Sometimes these single primordia are removed to allow for even pin formation over the entire surface of the cake and to obtain a greater yield.
After pinning and primordia formation pay attention to changing fruiting parameters for mushrooms development.
Fruiting parameters for primordia and mushrooms development
When primordia 3-5 mm in size are formed on the mushroom cake (usually this happens after 10-14 days), then the fruiting parameters should be slightly adjusted.
These conditions should be maintained until the immediate harvest.
❇️ Air temperature in growbox remains stable within the range of +21°..+23°C or 70-74°F.
❇️ Relative humidity is reduced to 85-92%, so that we increase the evaporation rate. This is an important requirement for primordia development.
If the humidity remains too high pins development will be suspended. The easiest way to reduce humidity is air temperature increasing literally 1°C or increase FAE.
If RH in the growbox is too low, then spray the walls of the grow box from time to time.
❇️ FAE at least 4 times a day. Under no circumstances should air stagnation be allowed. High humidity and lack of air movement are an excellent breeding ground for pathogenic microorganisms and infection of mushroom cakes. Ideally - the operation of the aquarium compressor on a PERMANENT basis.
❇️ CO2 level no more than 1000 ppm. At the stage of growth of fruiting bodies, fungi emit more carbon dioxide, but a slight increase in the level of CO2 in the grow box is less critical than at the stage of primordia fixation.
❇️ 12 hour on/off light cycle. Diffuse natural light or exposure to a blue-spectrum LED lamp (~435 - 480 nanometers).
🔴 Important! The top casing layer of mushroom cake should be moist!
Mushrooms development in dynamics
I'd like to share some examples. Here is Golden Teacher in all its glory. This handsome shroom guy appeared the very first.
26th day after inoculation, 7th day in the growbox:
Here is 28 days after inoculation and 9th day of fruiting period. Psilocybe Cubensis Thai after cold shocking. Details in the section All you need to know about cold shock for magic mushrooms
Mushroom memes with our funny fungi guy
29th day after inoculation and 10th day of fruiting period:
30th day after inoculation and 7th day of fruiting period:
Growing problems during fruiting period
During fruiting period you can face with many problems. Most common are:
- Wrong fruiting parameters (problems with pin setting and primordia development, overlay, mushroom aborts, metabolites, abnormal development and inappropriate appearance of the fungus).
- Substrate contamination with pathogenic microorganisms (molds, bacteria, viruses, parasites).
- Genetic problems (mutation, strain degeneration, stroma).
Complete guide and examples of contaminants you can find in How To Recognize whether Mushrooms Contaminated or Not section
🆘 Why mycelium and mushrooms turned blue and have bruises
It is often newbie cultivators confuse mycelium oxidation and mushroom bruises with contamination. Bruises is a reaction between oxygen and psilocin in mushrooms and mycelium.
Blue color can occur due to any damages or if you touch shrooms or mycelium.
Bruises on mycelium can appear due to lack of moisture in the substrate or casing layer. As a result mycelium torn and become blue.
It's normal reaction when you crop mushrooms.
Bruises is not a contaminant and nothing to worry about.
🆘 Mushrooms are shrinked. Holes in mushrooms. Green mold. Red bubbles
In this video we share 3 problems in growing psilocybin mushrooms: holes in mushrooms and dry mushroom cake, green mold Trichoderma, red mold Lipstick mold.
🆘 Mycelium is cottony, fluffy or have crust
Stroma and Overlay is a dense cottony mycelium forms on the surface of the casing layer. Some time later it can turn into a crust. Such mycelium doesn't allow moisture and air to pass through and prevents pins and primordia formation.
More examples, main causes of stroma overlay and how to fix it in the section Overlay and Stroma in Mushroom Cultivation
🆘 Mushroom caps turned black
Fungal abortions are primordia or young mushrooms that have stopped their development. A distinctive feature of abortion is the blackening of mushroom caps. Details in the Mushroom aborts section.
Video demonstration of examples of abortion mushrooms and the reasons for their occurrence.
🆘 Yellow liquid on mushroom cake
Transparent yellow-orange-brown liquid without mucus and odor - these are secondary metabolites or waste products of the mycelium. Often formed due to various stresses: temperature changes, drafts, direct sunlight. The metabolites can be caused by minor contamination and the fight of the mycelium's immune system against competitors. Details in the Mycelium metabolites or mushroom pee section
Metabolites are often confused with contamination called Mycogone (aka Wet Bubble).
Video demonstration with examples of metabolites and their causes.
🆘 Mycelium become yellow, beige or brown
Slight pigmentation (beige, yellow, brown mycelium) is a normal reaction due to release of mycelium waste products. Nothing to worry about. It's not contamination. However, it is important to differ it from yellow mold.
🆘 Dark spots on mushrooms and mycelium
The video shows the most beautiful spots on mushrooms and mycelium - spores!
And 1000 more questions you can face with.
For successful pins setting, primordia formation and mushrooms development you should maintain necessary microclimate in the growbox. Dispose mushroom cakes with contamination in time. Be patient and attentive.
Enjoy how mushrooms grow. Now they grow very fast from this step.
After primordia formation mushrooms are ready to crop in few days.
The exciting moment of harvesting comes...
But before it we recommend to prepare your own material for new growing — spore prints —