Truffles are the edible fruits of a fungus that grows among the roots of certain types of tree, such as hazelnuts and oaks. While they grow in the wild in Europe, it is possible to inoculate trees so that they produce popular types of truffle. This makes commercial truffle orchards (truffières) possible.
To create a truffière trees must be inoculated with the particular type of truffle desired, and it will take at least 4-5 years before the crop is ready to harvest. Already inoculated trees can be purchased and planted. Truffles are harvested at different times during the year dependent on type of truffles being grown.
Three types of truffle are grown in New Zealand.
- Perigord Black Truffle (tuber melanosporum) – this is named after the Périgord region of France. Coloured a very dark brown, these truffles normally reach a size of about 10cm. The price for black truffles grown in New Zealand is usually betweenr $3–$4,000–per kilogram.
- Bianchetto Truffle or Whitish Truffle (tuber borchii) – these have a brown or pale yellow appearance and can grow up to 5cm in diameter. Whitish truffles grow under a wide variety of trees. The price varies between $500-$3,500 per kilogram.
- Burgundy Truffle (tuber uncinatum) – With a hazelnut aroma, these truffles can grow up to 10cm or more in diameter. Burgundy Truffles sell for between $50 and $800 per kilogram.
The world’s most expensive truffle is the Italian White Truffle (tuber magnatum). Unfortunately, these only grow in the wilds of Northern Italy and have so far resisted all attempts at cultivation.
Your Own Truffière
If you are looking to establish your own truffière, be warned that it will take at least 5-20 years before you start seeing a return.
If you have established truffle trees, but you are yet to find any truffles, have your root samples tested. Testing services are currently available from:
- Plant and Food, Alexi Guerin (Alexis.Guerin@plantandfood.co.nz)
- Dnature New Zealand, John MacKay (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Looking after your truffle orchard (truffière) is a year round project. Depending on what season you are in will depend on what to work needs to be completed.
Frequently when I visit clients who have not located any truffles in the current or past seasons I suggest that they have their roots reviewed. Read more about Root Sampling.
Immediately after the truffle season is the best time to prune your trees, get soils samples, and complete a tidy up within your truffière.
- Read one person’s experience with pruning a variety of trees in their truffière