The burgeoning truffle industry in North America has the unique opportunity to establish standards that ensure the highest levels of product quality and measures to ensure industrial integrity. To address industry and product integrity we can take simple actions at different points in the cultivation process. The industry can take steps to prevent contaminant truffle species from entering the market. These steps include setting industry seedling standards and a comprehensive system of truffle grading.
Truffle farming can be a rewarding experience when truffles are found, but the years between planting your seedlings and before your first harvest can keep you on the edge of your seat! You can take some of the guesswork out of it by having your roots examined for the mycorrhizal association of interest. This webinar will give you an understanding of why and how to have your trees tested, how we do the various tests in the lab, and which truffle fungi we can detect.
In this presentation, Dr. Sannon Berch reviews four scientific publications (see below) that are available for free download or on the NATGA web site under Resources, Papers. Although it is Shannon’s goal to make the science reasonably accessible for non-scientists, she is explaining biological and mycological phenomena and exploring hypothetical scenarios. The paper by Le Tacon et al. (2016) provides an explanation of what is known and still unknown about how truffle fungi reproduce. Since the end result of this reproduction is the truffle, it is important that truffle growers understand the basics. The paper by Garcia-Barreda et al. (2020) examines how soil and season affect truffle traits like weight and maturity, how the installation of ‘nests’ or ‘Spanish wells’ alters these responses, and how truffle traits and responses to nest installation differ in different soil types. Making sure there is genetic diversity in the truffle orchard through the application of spores (nests or Spanish wells) could be key to enhancing productivity but under what conditions? The paper by Iotti et al. (2016) explores how inoculation of seedlings in the nursery with mycelium rather than spores might permit the selection of truffle strains with superior characteristics. Only Tuber borchii at present lends itself to this kind of strain selection since it is much easier than most other Tuber species to grow in pure culture. We hope that by the end of this webinar, participants will have a better understanding of how truffles are produced and, using this understanding, be better able to evaluate possible future alterations to how truffles are cultivated.
Knowing how plantation management affects the yield of edible mycorrhizal fungi (EMF) is both a new and complex issue. We are virtually inexperienced compared to most other horticultural sectors. EMF production also relies on the symbiotic interaction with host trees. The variable success obtained with truffle cultivation worldwide speaks for itself: a true cultivation remains to be invented. The current lack of knowledge is also a great research opportunity: so much can be learned if only we invest in it. Since no research work has yet addressed this question on truffles, I will present the monitoring of the yield of a mycorrhizal mushroom: saffron milk cap.
This introductory NATGA webinar will provide a foundation to the science and ecology of Tuber melanosporum. With this knowledge and understanding we are better prepared to evaluate and make decisions for the establishment and management of a Black Truffle orchard from the onset of the inclination to be a truffle farmer through the realization of that dream. A strong foundation helps to inform good practices.