Currently, the truffle is considered by many in the world of gastronomy to be the equivalent of diamonds in the world of jewelry. These valued mushrooms have been appreciated by all kinds of cultures since the time of the Greek philosophers and have been consumed for their exquisite flavor and for their revitalizing and aphrodisiac effects. However, this prized delicacy is not always easy to find and, depending on the area, may not be easy to grow.
If you want to learn more and know how to grow truffleskeep reading us in this EcologíaVerde article in which we explain everything about this highly appreciated fungus.
What are truffles and what is truffle farming
Truffles are a whole mushroom genusspecifically family Tuberaceae. They are fungi that cannot survive on their own, and need to associate with tree roots in a symbiotic relationship. There are around 40 species of truffles, but only four of them are popular and valued as cooking ingredients. These are the tuber magnatum either Piedmont white trufflethe tuber melanosporum either black trufflethe brumale tuber either winter truffle and the Tuber aestivum either summer truffle.
Of all these, the most commonly grown in truffle farms and farms is the black truffle, highly appreciated in France and Spain, although the most valued economically is the white one, which can be priced at several thousand euros per kilogram. truffle farmingon the other hand, is precisely the set of techniques and knowledge that are applied to the cultivation or plantation of trufflessince it is a very specialized crop.
How to grow truffles – basic tips
The truffle cultivation requires numerous care and requirements:
- Host plant: the most common are the holm oak, the oak, the hazel and the Kermes oak.
- Climate: marked winters and summers, without excessive rainfall.
- Terrain: with great drainage and, if possible, with a slope. The pH should be between 7.5 and 8.5.
How to choose a host plant for truffles
What mycorrhizal fungus that is, the truffle needs to be associated with the roots of some trees to develop. Learn more about what mycorrhizae are and their types in this other EcologíaVerde post.
Choosing a tree for truffles that it is adequate depending on our circumstances is essential to achieve a good crop and that it is not very complicated. As mentioned above, the most used species are the holm oak, the oak, the hazel and the Kermes oak. Of all of them, the holm oak is by far the most popular, since being a slow-growing tree, the plant develops at the same rate as the black truffle fungus, the most common to cultivate. In the past, hazelnuts were widely used, but they have gradually fallen into disuse.
Climate to grow truffles
The black truffle grows best in a Mediterranean type climate or similar. Hot summers are necessary, as well as marked but not extreme winters, without frosts in autumn and with winters without long periods below -10 ºC. It is also important that spring has a good amount of rain. In fact, natural truffles usually have a rainfall of between 425 and 900 mm.
Truffles increase in size in summer, so this period is critical for its proper development. In the same way, the intense cold at the beginning of autumn or the excessively abundant rains that make the soil waterlogged can be especially damaging.
Land to grow truffles
The truffle fields show a great variety of terrains in which they can be developed, but all of them share some general points. These are the characteristics of the land to grow truffles:
- Drainage is basic in truffles. Without good drainage, the soil will puddle due to irrigation or rain, and fungi will not grow, as they need moisture but not puddles.
- Some unevenness will also help. This causes the water provided by irrigation or rain to moisten the upper layer of earth without ever flooding it, since the bulk of it continues down the slope.
- The pH must be between 7.5 and 8.5, depending on the variety of truffle that we want to grow.
- It is important that the soil has carbonates.
How to prepare the ground to grow truffles
Once confirmed that our climate and soil are suitable for growing this fungus, we can proceed to prepare the ground to grow truffles:
- Between 2 and 6 months before of the plantation of the mycorrhized trees, the first thing will be to plow or remove the soil at a certain depth to break the upper layer of soil, leaving it more aerated, loose and improving its drainage.
- If you are planting in a small space and you come across large stones, try to remove them or, if possible, chop them down to make them smaller. Keep in mind that if you collect with a dog, which is a common practice, you can damage your legs with sharp stones when digging.
- After, plant mycorrhizal trees. The planting technique will be the usual one for the host species in question. Here you can learn in a generic way How to plant a tree step by step. Water and take special care of the trees during their first years, when they are most vulnerable.
- From the second season, it is necessary to dig a perimeter around each tree and fill it with gravel to avoid harmful fungi.
- From the fifth year onwards, add truffle spores around the roots to emulate the action of wild animals. If you are in a natural environment, protect your truffles from wild boars or other predators, which can locate them at a great distance.
How to find truffles to harvest them
The human being cannot detect the smell of the buried truffle, but this is not the case for many animals. For this reason, many times they are the ones used to allow us to locate and harvest them. if you wonder how to find truffles to harvest themthese are the animals that can help us the most:
- Dogs trained ones are a great option, and their high intelligence makes it easy to teach them to locate them.
- the pigs they have traditionally been used for this too, but they cannot be taught as easily as dogs and they seek out the truffle to eat themselves, so it is necessary to put a muzzle on them to prevent this. For this reason, it is more advisable to teach a dog, since it will not be necessary to put a muzzle on it.
- There are also those who use giant suillaa type of fly that spawns on truffles, but locating them this way is a much more complicated procedure.
The harvest season will usually be between December and early March.
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