how to decide a layout for truffle farming in the USA?

The last two weeks we have been visiting 8 truffle farming projects in the USA with @xvilanovasola, mostly in California and in North Carolina. Let me comment some of the issues we mostly find and to compare the climates and soils.

In Ashville (NC) is probably where we find temperatures more similar to the ones in Catalonia. i.e. 23,7ºC as average of the hottest month (July) and 2,8ºC as average in the coldest month (january). Here black truffle will enjoy direct sunlight to the ground, so better make layouts with rows North-South with low density (150 trees/acre).

Ashville 2ashville 1

In this area it rains all year round, with 70-80mm every month, so some orchards would not even need irrigation during fruiting stage.

On the other hand, in California temperatures are quite higher, specially the average of the maximum in the hottest month. The amplitude of temperatures during day & night are huge, so truffle will probably look for some shade in some areas, so we can design layouts a little more dense or with rows East-West.

sonoma climate truffles micoforaSonoma valley truffle growing Morcillo

Another issue that may raise is when truffle season ends in mid march, we have to do all tasks in a truffle orchard, this is to prune, chop branches, add truffle spores or spanish wells and rip or till before spring starts. But in CA most trees already move/sprout in late march, we also found mycorrhizae were active in most samples in early april. This means that the “window” to do more tasks is shorter than in Spain. 2 weeks in CA while 4-5 weeks in Spain. And in north California rains in march so soil may be too wet to work before spring comes…

Here two pics one with old Quercus suber and another with Q. robur & pubescens with black truffle. The first with an excessive canopy and the second will close soon if trees are not heavily pruned:

quercus suber produces trufflesquercus robur mycorrhized with black truffle micofora

Rain is one of the main problems in the area north of San Francisco, like Napa and Sonoma Valley, specially in winter where the amount of water is pretty high at the time that truffle are harvested. This will create problems in the orchards in the valleys, with clay soils and bad drainage. Ripping or improving drainage (french drains) will be a must to avoid truffle rot.

We found several orchards with excessive tree density that need to be thinned, trees toped or heavily pruned:

hazel mycorrhized with black truffle micoforaXavier Vilanova samples a filbert truffle orchard


Marcos S. Morcillo & Xavier Vilanova


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Truffle Growing in México

truffle growing in México

I attach a picture of the 1300 Pinus pinea that we planted in Zumpango, México in 2015 and their evolution since planted.
In another pilot plot more to the north we have 1 hectare with 250 stone pines plus another with Pinus cembroides. This other pine also produces edible nuts. In the same plantation we have some Mexican native oaks mycorrhized as well.

The mycorrhizal levels of the samples sent to our lab in Barcelona are very good and we will try this spring to quantify the concentration of mycelium of Borchii with the molecular technique Real Time PCR.
pino micorrizado borchii México
We are considering the possibility to graft these pines with highly productive clones of pine cones, to shorten the waiting time to pine cones production and increase nuts yield.
Another key factor for these plantations to enter into production will be to add special substrates with bianchetto spores to provide the “male factor” that can fertilize the maternal part found in the soil and mycorrhizae, as we do with the spanish wells with the black truffle.
Piñonero Zumpango trufa Méjico
These pilot plantations will be the first to produce truffles and European pine nuts jointly, two non-timber products of high market value.

If you want to know more about the reproduction of this truffle:

Characterization of the reproductive mode and life cycle of the whitish truffle T. borchii

Cheers from California, where my partner Xavier Vilanova and I are visiting several truffle projects. Will keep you posted!

Note the next International Workshop on Edible Mycorrhizal Mushrooms  IWEMM9 will be this summer in Mexico

 Marcos S. Morcillo

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Truffle Farming worldwide update for 2017

how many hectares of truffles are planted in the world

A spanish newspaper (el Diario de Teruel) asked me some data to create an updated paper and Infographic about truffle farming in the world, and this is how it looks like, although it is in spanish I though it was nice to show you.

Rechecking now I can detect some edition mistakes, i.e first truffle plantation in Australia was on ´92 and they got the first truffle in Tasmania in ´99…

They made some interviews as well to the growers that attended the last edition of the Barcelona Truffle Tour, from USA, Australia, South Africa or Israel among others.


Marcos S. Morcillo

P.D. I´ve been extremely busy this truffle season, but I will keep on writing in this blog soon 🙂 as there are lots of ideas and papers to show here…


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Some bacteria and active organic compounds boost truffles mycelium

We tested 8 bacteria strains + 6 organic compounds on nursery and truffle plantations

My partner Dr. Xavier Vilanova just gave a lecture about the new results from a joint research project we do with IRTA in Barcelona.

As you´ll see in the embed lecture we tested 8 bacteria strains and 6 organic compounds and quantify 3 months later the concentration of black truffle mycelium on each trial.

Main conclusions are:

• Each stage (age) of the plant has a different reaction for each treatment.

• In nursery phase, 11 of the 14 treatments generated a positive effect on the

concentration of mycelium. Mainly two organic substances (TR11 and

TR12) and a bacterial strain (TR9).

• In plantation of 3.5 years old: all treatments generated a positive effect on the

concentration of truffle mycelium in the soil. Mainly two organic substances

(TR14 and TR15) and two bacterial strains (I TR9 TR6). These trees have started as well to produce truffles while the others don´t. So there is a significative correlation between the treatment, the concentration of truffle mycelium and later black truffle fruitings.

• In 10 years old plantation 5 to 14 treatments generated a positive effect on the

concentration of truffle mycelium in the soil, all organic substances

(TR10,11,13,14 I15).

Bellow you can see a picture of one tree in the trial farm, where last week we just found a black truffle under a just 2 year old Quercus ilex



Marcos S. Morcillo & Xavier Vilanova

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New results from our research with “spanish wells” with black truffle spores


Last week we have organized with the IRTA (Institute of Research in Agronomic Technologies) a workshop to show the results of our latests join research on truffles.

I embed here my lecture with the results. We quantified black truffle mycelium after “spanish wells” inoculation, with different spore dosis and at different months.

Main conclusions are:

. Drip irrigation system seems not to favour truffle mycelium expansion in soil. 3 logarithms below outside humidity bubble.

• Seasonal differences in distribution of black truffle mycelium in the soil. Seasonal pattern dependent from water or irrigation.

• Significative more Tuber mycelium concentration and sequences in productive trees.

• Idem for Scleroderma. Could it be a positive partner specie?

• April inoculations increase Tuber sp. sequences and mycelium concentration in june, as compared to controls non-inoculated, reaching same levels of sequences than when inoculated in june at 5grams. BUT for agronomic reasons it should be better to inoculate in april, as we mostly do mechanically with tractors over the brulê, in order not to disturb the active mycelium in june.

This is an example of a tool that can be adapted for truffle farming:

. We detect significative more mycelium 2 months after reinoculations, probably due to sporal germination. The main problem nowadays is that we normally make the “spanish wells” with truffle spores right after the truffle season in ended (in norther hemisphere from 15th march) and sometimes the soil is too wet because it rains in spring, so some growers delay this task to avoid compacting the ground. This makes that when truffle spores germinate is too late for a “male mycelium” to do fecundation, and this is why most “spanish wells” produce truffles 2 winters later. Although this is just a theory that need to be proven. We are working on that 😉

A way could be to add truffle spores to the soil before the end of march, but in productive orchards we cannot do it with a tractor as we would damage truffles already in the soil. This is why some growers start adding substrates with spores in each hole where they found a truffle…


Marcos S. Morcillo




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New standards to market truffles in Europe


It has just been published the new standards to market and quality control of fresh truffles, not including truffles to be processed for industry.

You can download the full document in the next link:

NORME CEE-ONU FFV-53 concernant la commercialisation et le contrôle de la qualité commerciale des TRUFFES



let me give you some updates about truffle season in Spain, which is the worst in decades, with almost no wild truffle in the woods. As always we don´t really know why, we come from the driest winter, so trees hardly sprout last spring and moreover spring and early summer was so warm…who knows…

If you want to keep updated with prices and volumens, follow my partner Dr. Xavier Vilanova every monday´s twit

Quantities are low and in large areas in Catalonia fog has stayed for over a month with continued temperatures around 0ºC. This has lead to damage shallow truffles and not sure how trees will be affected as fog is still there.


Marcos S. Morcillo


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Pines will produce Lactarius fruit bodies inside our nurseries!

saffron milk cap mushroom cultivated

Lactarius deliciosus fruiting in a pot from a mycorrhized pine seedling

We are happy these Christmas as we´ll be starting a new research project. This is the mycorrhization of pines with an specific Lactarius delicious strain who produces fruit bodies inside our nurseries, right on the pots!

This strain has been isolated by the team at IRTA and the project have been granted with a Torres Quevedo fund from the spanish Government for 3 years. Here a couple of pics of the mycelium growing on pure culture:

safrron mil cap mushroom mycelia

We are so happy as well because of this project    a new member is joining our team full time: she is Herminia de la Varga, who comes from the Nancy lab at INRA, in France, and she will coordinate the Lactarius project plus our DNA lab.

If you want to check her latests papers and researches, check her profile at Researchgate.

You can download her PhD Thesis where she developed the firsts quantitative tools with DNA to monitor truffles, porcini and saffron milk cap mushrooms on soil:

Welcome Herminia and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

Marcos S. Morcillo


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more light on the reproduction cycle of the black truffle (Tuber melanosporum)


I was preparing a lecture for our growers seminars (Barcelona Truffle Tour) and rechecking this recent study presented at the last conference in Cahors and published in the journal Molecular Ecology and produced by a team of the National Museum of Natural History, with the CNRS and the University of Montpellier, gives more light on the reproduction cycle of the black truffle (Tuber melanosporum).

The french truffle season, like in Spain is pretty bad, mostly to the lack of rain in summer, but probably the dry spring that made trees to sprout weakly. Hunters say it will be one of the worst in years. Moreover in this paper they states that the spontaneous sites represent only 20% of the production.
Truffles results from a fertilization between two very different individuals: the first, large, considered as the mother, is associated with the roots of neighboring trees. It persists from year to year and nourishes the truffle. The second, considered the father, is smaller, annual, and not associated with tree roots. It could result from the germination of a non-dispersed spore, or a kind of male that survives only to fertilize a better installed individual.
The planting of inoculated trees did not change the genetic diversity of black truffle populations compared to wild sites. Thus, genes circulate freely between these environments. In one detail: in plantation, the number of fathers is higher and they are more genetically varied, perhaps because of spore intakes, voluntary or not, during truffle treatments.
There is a geographic variability of genetic diversity in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, which is still preserved in plantations. This suggests that the provenances of the inoculated trees should not be mixed too much if it is desired to preserve local genetic characteristics of the black truffle.


Marcos S. Morcillo

Molecular Ecology – How the truffle got its mate: insights from genetic structure in spontaneous and planted Mediterranean populations of Tuber melanosporum, par Taschen E., Rousset F., Sauve.M, Benoit L. Dubois M.-P., Richard F., Selosse M.-A.
DOI: 10.1111/mec.13864
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will a heavy pruning affect my truffiere?


A grower ask me the other week about if he maybe had pruned too much his truffle trees. He did it 2 years ago and yield dropped a lot last season and this season started poorly while other neighbor truffieres started with good fruitings.

Pruning is better to be done every year and light prune is better trying to remove less than 30% of branches. When we do a heavy pruning this may turn tree into a negative feedback due to hormones function:

Auxins (plant hormones) produced in the twig’s terminal buds stimulate root growth. Gibberellins (plant hormones) produced in the root tip stimulate canopy growth.
The tree balances root growth versus canopy growth by these hormones.
Excessive pruning may reduce auxins, slowing root growth, so decreasing gibberellins is followed by a decline in the canopy caused by the reduced root growth.




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Barcelona Truffle Tour seminars coming soon!


images from the Barcelona truffle Tour

We are excited as the first of our truffle farming seminars in Spain for this season are just coming.

DATES are 12TH-17TH DECEMBER 2016 AND 6TH-11TH FEBRUARY 2017, but note that february tour is almost sold out and there are just 3 places left for december. So if you still want to join, contact us now.

One of the new features this year is the workshop about aromatic profiles and post harvest treatments that Dr. Pedro Marco Montori will develop. He´s a researcher at Zaragoza University. His PhD was focused on post harvest truffle treatments, so you´ll be able to compare liofilizated vs. heated vs. wax coatings on truffles, analyze how truffles breathe at different temperatures, and learn and understand the complexity of truffle aroma.

If you want to see some of his scientific papers on this topic, check his research gate profile.

And if you want to see what we do in these seminars, just get in

Apologize as it is in spanish, but in this just published chilean review (page 16), you can check about truffle post harvest protocols, mostly extracted from Pedro´s research:

Looking forward to meet you in Barcelona soon 🙂


Marcos S. Morcillo & Xavier Vilanova



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