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Mushroom E Bulletin 2

Teagasc Advisory - Mushroom E-Bulletin 2, 2020

Recruitment Campaign for Temporary Workers for the Horticulture Sector

As a mushroom producer, you have no doubt been dealing with some issues around sourcing labour through the usual channels since the COVID 19 pandemic due to the restrictions put in place by governments across Europe to mitigate the spread of the disease. There are considerable competitive demands on migrant labour across Europe and significant travel disruption which is impeding usual movement patterns.   
The Department of An Taoiseach announced on Friday 17th that “A national recruitment campaign will start shortly with the aim of recruiting a large number of temporary workers for the horticulture sector from the Live Register within Ireland”.  This campaign is led by Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection(DEASP).   DAFM and Teagasc, with the support of Horticultural producers represented by the IFA, have partnered with DEASP to support this development. The recruitment campaign is now live and you can participate in this recruitment campaign by completing the form on the link below:
The process for the campaign is as follows:

Teagasc is facilitating horticultural producers to input details of available open positions for seasonal workers below through the form. The purpose of this exercise is to map the locations, roles and numbers required.
On foot of this mapping exercise, this information will be notified to Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection(DEASP).  Their Employer Relations team will then work to attract willing and able workers to the roles.  They will drive the overall process of direct engagement with and shortlisting of potential recruits.  Those being contacted will be resident in Ireland and currently unemployed (not on temporary lay-off due to Covid-19 restrictions).  The Employer Relations team will match possible clients to the producers who have identified vacancies through Teagasc.  Horticulture producers will receive names and email addresses of possible candidates.
The producers will be responsible for interviewing, selecting and appointing suitable candidates to the vacant jobs. The producers will also be asked to update the Employer Relations team if clients referred by them have been successful and are appointed to roles.
The jobs identified by the employers will also be publicly advertised on JobsIreland.ie so that they are visible to everyone looking for employment.
Details of all employer supports provided by DEASP are available here These services are free to access and include financial supports that are available under the JobsPlus and Wages Subsidy Scheme for employing people with a disability. 

Note that when possible candidates are identified by DEASP, You would obviously still have your own selection and interview processes to complete before any candidate would be deemed suitable.  You can withdraw from the recruitment campaign at any time or once the positions are filled.


Teagasc Horticulture Development Department have developed some focused factsheets and resources for the broad horticulture sectors in response to COVID-19. The website was designed to assist growers to act to reduce the impacts of COVID-19 and the associated national mitigation measures on their business.

The most recent factsheet produced provides Guidelines and recommendations for safeguarding staff on horticultural facilities.. There is a lot of information in here for growers to update their training, policies and manage physical distancing at an operational level. It also provides an opportunity to mitigate the potential negative impacts of incidence and spread of COVID 19 among staff. 

Plant Protection Products Update

The table above provides an update on plant protection products available for mushroom growers to use and the application rates as per the product label. This information is useful when filling out your crop protection records as it provides the product PCS number, active ingredient, harvest interval and maximum number of applications per crop. 

Ficam W (PCS No. 93413) is permitted for existing stocks at end-user level up until 1st September 2020. This means growers who have Ficam W in stock are authorised to use the product up until the end of August of this year. 

Product labels are available at these links:

Decis Protech and Pyrethrum have Off-label approval - Extension of Authorisation for Minor Uses (EAMU). The directions for use of these products are available on these links:

  1. Decis Protech - 05269 EAMU 2019-01-14
  2. Pyrethrum 5EC - 06255 EAMU 2019-09-10

If you require any advice on the use of these products please do not hesitate to contact me on my number below (Pesticide Advisor number: PA001369).

Thinking about investing in Solar PV?

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generate electricity from daylight, although they produce most in direct sunlight. Solar PV can be supplied as panels or tiles and can be built into the fabric of a building, bolted on afterwards or built on a frame on the ground. An inverter is needed to convert the direct current (DC) electricity output of the PV panels to alternating current (AC) for immediate use or to charge batteries.

In general, solar PV needs 7-8m2 per kW of installed capacity. A 50kw roof mounted array would need approximately 400 square meters. This 50 kw unit has the capacity to generate up to 40,000 kw of energy per annum. This varies depending on the site location (south East receives the highest levels of solar radiation in Ireland) and direction the roof is facing. PV panels have very low regular maintenance requirements; a visual check for debris by the owner on an annual basis is usually sufficient.

Mushroom production units are ideally suited for Solar PV as peak electricity generated during the summer coincides with a farms peak cooling requirements. Growers can avail of On Farm Investment (OFI) grant aid through your Producer Organisation of 50% to install Solar PV. Taking grant aid into consideration, the return on investment for Solar PV is 3.5 years.

COVID-19 and Mushroom Virus X

At this moment in time when the deadly Coronavirus - COVID-19 - is sweeping through the world, we are all listening carefully to the advice of the medical experts about what we need to do to keep ourselves and our families protected and to keep this virus at bay until there is a safe and reliable vaccine available to us.   With COVID-19 we hear about having to implement ‘good coughing etiquette’, ‘good hand hygiene’, ‘social distancing’, ‘self-isolation’, ‘cocooning’.  We hear that some people may be ‘asymptomatic’, that there is a high level of ‘community transmission’, of the need for a ‘safe and reliable vaccine’ or ‘anti-viral drugs’ or ‘herd immunity’.  We also hear that the most important thing is the need for ‘testing, testing, testing’. 

As we all get to know what these terms mean and integrate them into our daily lives, it is worthwhile remembering that much of this advice also applies to trying to keep Mushroom Virus X (MVX) at bay too!  Have a look at the table below to see how the actions needed to combat COVID-19 are mirrored in the advice given to combat MVX.



  Relative to COVID-19

  Relative to Mushroom Virus X

Good coughing etiquette

Contain coughs and sneezes in crook of the elbow or a tissue to minimise the spread of virus particles through the air at high speed

Practice good disease identification, treatment and containment (even one brown mushroom in a crop means the crop is infected with MVX).  Don’t let mushrooms open and release infected spores, cookout all crops before emptying otherwise  infected compost particles will spread around the farm, don’t power-wash dirty surfaces which will spread infected particles at high speed through the air over long distances, contaminating a wide area.  Hosing down with low pressure water is preferable to power-washing.

Good hand hygiene, regular washing with soap and water, using alcohol hand gels.

This kills any virus on the surface of the hands

Practice regular daily cleaning and disinfection treatments on all surfaces around the farm (concrete areas, canteen, corridors, door handles, trolleys, etc) where virus-containing propagules (mushroom spores and compost debris) may be present. 
Cook-out all mushroom crops when finished. 

Social distancing

Self-protection against possible infection from others who may have the virus

Protect each growing room from everything outside it to prevent the possibility of cross contamination. Restrict entry into growing rooms, ensure all doors and walls are well sealed to prevent entry of unfiltered air and contaminants.  Keep doors closed as much as possible during harvesting to prevent entry of contaminants but also exit of contaminants should the room be infected. 


Self-isolation of infected individuals until they have recovered and no longer have symptoms

Isolation of any infected crops by restricted entry into rooms; dedicated personal for infected crops; cook-out of infected crops prior to removal of spent substrate.  


Total self-isolation of the most vulnerable to prevent any contact with an infected individual

Total isolation and protection of every batch of new substrate and casing, and every new mushroom crop, from coming into contact with any sources of infection from previous batches and crops – this requires thorough cleaning and disinfection of all equipment to be used with new batches and crops (conveyors, tunnels, trucks, filling cassettes, nets, shelves, etc), and all personnel working with new crops to be suited up in PPE.


Someone who has the virus but is showing no symptoms or very mild symptoms so they appear to be uninfected. They can still infect others who may be more susceptible

Some mushroom crops may appear ‘healthy’ or show only ‘very mild’ symptoms.  We often hear growers say “No, I haven’t got MVX - only the odd brown mushroom”.  It is likely all the mushrooms and compost in such crops are infected but are asymptomatic. Mushroom spores and compost debris from such a crop can infect other vulnerable crops once the invisible virus-infected particles spread out of the room, especially if the room is emptied without cook-out.

Community transmission

Unknown sources of virus are being transmitted in the community resulting in positive infections occurring at random

A sudden appearance of an MVX outbreak on a farm with no history of it before suggests an unknown source, especially  if contact tracing of substrates, equipment, materials, etc. fails to identify a potential explanation.  Many MVX outbreaks however can be traced back to previously infected crops on a premises and a breakdown in good hygiene practices.

Anti-viral vaccine

A vaccine stimulates the individual’s own immune system to defend itself from a virus attack.  When used by the majority of the community at large It can lead to the eradication of diseases

Current research at Teagasc  is looking at how the mushroom defends itself when infected with MVX.  Anti-viral proteins have been found in some mushroom strains infected with MVX.  Significant investment in research is needed to characterise these anti-viral elements and enhance their expression in commercial strains to see if they confer ‘immunity’.  This information could help mushroom breeders to develop a virus-resistant strain.

Anti-viral drugs

Medical drugs which can inactivate  the virus in the body and so reduce their impact  

There are no antiviral pesticides developed for mushroom crops.  There is some research looking at antiviral agents against plant viruses. Significant investment in research would be needed to develop anti-viral agents against MVX.


A situation where most people have been infected (or immunised) and so the virus cannot find new individuals to infect and so dies off 

Each new batch of spawn from spawn producers is rigorously controlled to ensure it is free of any pathogens.  Significant investment in research would be needed to advance the development of a virus-resistant strain.   

Testing, testing, testing

Testing confirms that someone has the virus.  Testing close contacts confirms if anyone close to that person has been infected. A negative result means the virus is not present. 

Testing mushrooms regularly for MVX will confirm if the virus is present.  Testing closely related crops will confirm if it has spread.  Negative results will give some peace of mind that MVX is not present.  Without testing, you do not know if you have an asymptomatic infection which could lead to a more severe outbreak in due course if prevention measures (as outlined above) are not in place.


Please get in touch if you would like further information, if you have any issues you would like to discuss or topics you would like to hear more about.
Donal Gernon  - Mushroom Specialised Adviser - Teagasc, Dublin Rd, Marshes Upper, Dundalk, Co. Louth, A91 PVW4.
Mob.087 2258647 - Email donal.gernon@teagasc.ie 

Acknowledge the contributions of: Helen Grogan, Dermot Callaghan, Irene Marongiu & Brian McGuinness




Archive issues

Mushroom E bulletin 1 2020 

Mushroom Advisory Newsletter May-July 2019

Mushroom Advisory Newsletter Mar-Apr 2019

Mushroom Advisory Newsletter Jan-Feb 2019

Mushroom Advisory Newsletter May-Jun 2018

Mushroom Advisory Newsletter Jul-Aug 2018

Mushroom Advisory Newsletter Sept-Oct 2018

Mushroom Advisory Newsletter Mar 2017

Mushroom Advisory Newsletter Jan 2017

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