Man in forest with large mushroom

Written by Timo Mendez - Published on 28 July, 2023

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Assorted mushrooms harvested and stored in cardboard clam shell

Harvesting is by-far one of the most enjoyable parts of growing your own mushrooms. It's the moment all mushroom growers eagerly await. To finally hold their prized mushrooms after carefully watching them grow and tending to their needs. For some growers, harvesting is even more exciting than eating the mushrooms themselves!

And, while the act of harvesting is relatively straightforward, knowing the best moment to harvest is not always inherent for new growers. Many people wait too long, hoping that their mushrooms will continue getting larger. Meanwhile, they pass the peak window of harvest when mushrooms have all the best qualities we are looking for; size, texture, flavor, and a good shelf life.

Sure, this isn’t disastrous for most home growers. The mushrooms will still be perfectly edible, even if they diminish in quality. But harvesting at the proper time will make sure that you get the best culinary experience from your harvest.

For growers, on the other hand, harvesting past the peak-window can be disastrous. The mushrooms become more fragile and sensitive to transportation. Their shelf life will be negatively impacted, and they won’t be as attractive to customers.

Thankfully, you don’t have to be a seasoned mycologist to figure out the best time to harvest. By carefully observing and following a few simple rules, you can be sure to pick your catch during the prime window of growth when they are best for harvest.

Factors Which Affect Harvest Time

Most mushrooms are typically ready to harvest anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks after pinning. For those who don’t know, “pinning” is when the primordial little nubs of mushrooms first appear. Yet, this estimate can greatly vary depending on the variety of mushrooms and environmental conditions.  

  • Temperatures: Generally speaking, mushroom fruiting bodies grow quicker with warmer temperatures and slower with cooler temperatures. While faster growth typically sounds good, high temperatures can negatively impact growth.

  • Humidity: Insufficient humidity can slow down growth.

  • Mushroom Variety: Different mushrooms, and even varieties of the same species, will have different speeds and harvest times. Polypores, in particular, are well-known to be slow growers.

  • Vigor: Sometimes a fungal culture can be more vigorous than others for whatever reason (substrate quality, environmental conditions, genetics, etc.) and can affect the growth-time of the fruiting bodies.

When To Harvest Oyster Mushrooms

Harvest Time From Pinning: 1-2 Weeks

When Oyster Mushrooms start pinning, they’ll begin as a small-ball of dense white mycelium. Within just a couple of days, the mushroom caps and stems will become evident and quickly begin to take on the clustered structure typical of oyster mushrooms.

The best time to harvest Oyster Mushrooms is when the first caps on the cluster begin going from convex to concave in shape. This is just before the edge of the mushroom cap begins to expand upwards, unfurling from a semi-spherical shape into a more funnel-like shape. If you wait too long, the mushrooms will become cup shaped and more fragile. They’ll also release a cloud of spores, which can be a bit messy depending on your set-up.

Things to consider

Pink Oysters tend to grow much faster and can mature in less than a week. They will also begin to fade from a deep pink to a whiter pink.

Blue Oysters tend to grow a bit slower compared to other species.

Black King Oysters have a long-stem and unique structure compared to other varieties, so don’t be surprised by that!

When To Harvest Chestnut Mushroom

Harvest Time From Pinning: 7-10 days

Just like Oyster Mushrooms, Chestnuts are perfectly fine to eat if they pass their prime, but their texture, flavor, and shelf-life are negatively affected.

The caps of Chestnut mushrooms start out spherical when young and eventually become concave and slightly funnel-shaped once they mature. 

The best time to harvest Chestnut mushrooms is when the caps flatten out and just before the cap-margins begin curling upwards. Chestnut mushrooms are anywhere from 5-12 cm in size when they are ready to harvest, depending on growth conditions.

When To Harvest Lion's Mane

Harvest Time From Pinning: 1-2 Weeks

Many new growers struggle to judge when they should harvest their Lion's Mane. Since it doesn't have the typical stem-cap shape of other species, you can’t really apply the same rules to it. Harvesting on time is also particularly important for Lion's Mane because they can actually take-on some slightly bitter flavors when they’re overly mature. It’s still perfectly edible at this stage, but not as enjoyable to eat!

At first, you’ll see a small dense ball of mycelium, which quickly expands after a couple of days. At some point, the teeth begin developing and elongating. These can grow several centimeters in size before harvesting time, but their exact length will vary depending on your variety and growth conditions.

The best time to harvest Lion's Mane is when the teeth are about 0.5 -1 cm in length and still white, moist, and soft to the touch. If you feel the top of your mushroom, it should start to feel soft and spongy as opposed to hard and dense, as is the case with immature Lion's Mane. If you begin seeing any signs of yellowing or bruising, you should harvest immediately.

When To Harvest Reishi Mushrooms

Harvest Time From Pinning: 8-12 Weeks

Reishi Mushrooms are some of the slowest growing mushrooms. They really keep you eager, growing slowly like a neglected houseplant. Despite how long it takes, it is pretty easy to tell when they are ready to harvest.

The best time to harvest Reishi mushrooms is when the edge of the cap margin goes from white to tan/red. This is because Reishi mushrooms grow outward from the edge of the cap and present a dense white margin made up of new growth. Once this white edge disappears, you know that it's done growing!

When To Harvest Reishi Mushrooms

Harvest Time From Pinning: About 8 Weeks

Turkey Tail mushrooms are a bit like Reishi mushrooms since they take a long time to grow but are easy to tell when they are ready for harvest. After all, they are both polypores and thus have a similar growth habit.

The best time to harvest Turkey Tail is when the white-edge of the mushroom changes color, indicating that the mushroom has stopped growing. You want the bottom of the mushroom to still be luscious white when you harvest. If you can harvest when the first mushrooms are beginning to stop growing, then you’ve caught them at the perfect moment!


After just a couple of successful grows, knowing when a mushroom is ready to harvest becomes second nature. You’ll be able to easily judge when the window for harvesting begins. This being said, I want to leave you with a couple of final points.

  • If you accidentally harvest too early, or perhaps your mushroom clusters fall off by accident, don’t worry! Many times, this can result in a larger second-flush.

  • Don’t eat any mushrooms that have mold, unpleasant smells, or have begun to rot in any way. This could cause food poisoning.

  • Don’t harvest with a knife. Simply pick the mushroom with your hands, twisting and plucking it off the block!

  • If you want a second flush, simply leave the block for 1-2 weeks in the dark. If it dries out a little bit, that’s totally okay. After this time passes, submerge it in water for 2-3 hours, then place it back in a moist environment. Like this, you can often achieve a second or even third flush.

Happy harvesting, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!