Mushroom growers produced fewer mushrooms this season, with lower value of sales.

Production of the 2009-10 U.S. mushroom crop of 793 million pounds was down 3.3% from 2008-09’s 819.7 million pounds, according to an annual mushroom report released Aug. 19 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Though average prices remain unchanged at $1.17 per pound from last season to this season, at $924.8 million, value of sales for the 2009-10 crop fell 3.6% from the previous season’s $958.8 million, according to the USDA.

While fresh market production of agaricus (white button) mushrooms fell 1% from 2008-09’s 680 million pounds to 671 million pounds for this year’s crop, the percent of fresh market production increased 1% from 85% the previous season to 86% this year.

At $886 million, the value of all agaricus mushroom sales fell 3% from the previous season, according to the USDA.

Laura Phelps, president of the American Mushroom Institute, Washington, D.C., said foodservice sales have been returning to normal while retail sales remain high.

She said processing production is down 13% and said snow hampered production January through April, and the smaller volume has kept prices and demand strong.

“We should see some price increases given that production costs are increasing and the little bit of shortage that I don’t see easing up right now,” Phelps said.

“This is the snow shortage, and we will probably have a tightening due to the heat, but it’s not a crisis.”

While most statistics show declines, Phelps said that brown mushrooms — portabella and crimini — increased 8% in sales volume and sales value.

On the specialty side, sales fell 19% from $48 million last season to $39 million this year, with shiitake sales declining 42% from last season’s $30 million to $17 million this year.

Organic mushroom sales accounted for 30 million pounds, 28% lower than the 42 million pounds the industry produced in 2008-09 — but only 57% of that volume was sold as organic, up from 29% last year. Only 2% of all mushroom sales were organic.

Mushroom production lower in 2009-10