the black truffle season in Spain begins in mid-November and lasts until mid-March. It has been very good in terms of productions, similar to the previous year in many areas and maybe 20% lower in other regions. The problem, as we all expected after seeing the truffle market in the southern hemisphere a few months earlier, has been the prices, because the restaurants and hotels have been half closed.
In addition, the year 2020 affected the storm Gloria, which left 200mm of water at once, leaving the soil of many plantations excessively compact and due to the Covid confinement, many truffle growers could not work/till their farms properly, which has resulted, in several cases, in truffles smaller than expected. And at the beginning of 2021 a new storm arrived, the Filomena with snows and frosts down to -28ºC in central Spain and Teruel, where we have most of the plantations, which made serios damage to the crop. Not only did it freeze many truffles on surface, but thousands of holm oaks have died or have sprung up very weakly this spring.
The following figure wholesale (dirty fruit bodies, not graded so all qualities mixed) prices for black truffle in the main market in Teruel and some comparisons for random weeks with other markets (data thanks to the Teruel Truffle Growers Association):
In the next figure you can see prices for the french markets. Note some of them is the retail price instead of whole sale:
Good luck to all truffle growers from down under in this just started season! 💪🏽
We already wrote about it some time ago in this post:
It is a topic to be discussed as lots of growers use it, in Spain, Basta or Finale is not available since a couple of years ago, and even in the following paper authors did not find that the use of Roundup affects the level of mycorrhization nor the concentration of truffle mycelium in soil analyzed with Real Time PCR, they conclude we can maybe use it the first 3-4 years in a plantation, but we think that truffle fruit bodies may accumulate glyphosate or its metabolites, once we enter into fruiting stage we should avoid Roundup in our truffieres.
Nowadays several growers have started to be certified organic and probably this is the path to follow.
The authors did not observe any detrimental effect on the mycorrhizal status or the density of extraradical mycelium when three applications within a growing season were applied.
Similarly, Olivera et al. (2011) did not find any negative effect of glyphosate on T. melanosporum ectomycorrhizae after 4 years with one annual application. Together, all these results indicate that an occasional or moderate use of glyphosate in young truffle orchards does not impair the proliferation of T. melanosporum mycorrhizae and extraradical mycelium.
This study shows that the sporadic or moderate use of glyphosate is not detrimental to the secondary infection by T. melanosporum in mycorrhizal seedlings with adequate mycorrhization levels. This is probably because in young orchards, secondary infection from the already existing mycorrhizae and their associated mycelium is likely the prevailing inoculum source for the spread of the fungus through the roots grown in the field.
But what about sexual reproduction and the new “male partner” that should come from new spores?
The authors suggest a detrimental effect of glyphosate on the infectivity of T. melanosporum spore inoculum.
The tested glyphosate application rates hindered the potential of T. melanosporum spore inoculum for infecting Quercus ilex root tips, whereas the formation of root tips was not negatively affected. This reduction in the spore inoculum effectiveness suggests that glyphosate (and/or its metabolites) has the potential to jeopardise the role of the soil spore bank as inoculum source for the colonisation of new roots (primary infection).
In the study, glyphosate treatments did not show any detrimental effect on stem height, root collar diameter or abundance of fine roots. Seedling survival was not affected in the short term of the assay, and no apparent abnormalities in shoot morphology were observed.
In this study, authors aim to investigate T. melanosporum fruit bodies (FB) traits such as weight, maturity, shape and probability of Leiodes infestation comparing in different soil types and inside nests or spanish wells.
Truffle growers claim that nests increase truffle quality, although some growers warn on the issues related to the re-wetting problem of peat after drying, while others consider that truffle growing in nests present lower maturity (less melanised spores, lighter-coloured glebae) and ripeness (lower intensity of aroma). Other claim the truffle density is lower…
To see the magnitude of this study, during two seasons, 1865 T. melanosporum were harvested in 1212 digs, with nests accounting for 53% of the truffles harvested and 42% of the digs excavated.
The proportion of digs excavated in nests varied over the fruiting season, showing a positive trend from its beginning until early December, after which the relative abundance of digs in nests began to decline. Digs excavated in nests remained dominant from mid-November to mid-January, falling to their lowest values from mid-February, a period in which digs excavated in bulk soil became largely dominant.
Truffles harvested in nests were deeper than those harvested in the bulk soil. In 57% of digs excavated in bulk soil truffles were found at depths less than 10 cm, whereas in 67% of excavated nests were found at depths between 10 and 20 cm.
About 74% of the digs excavated presented only one truffle, with the remaining digs presenting from two to 17.
When there are more than one truffle in the dig, they are harvested in early season until early January.
Nests showed a positive effect in Soil 1, in which the number of truffles per dig almost doubled with respect to bulk soil; a positive effect in Soil 2 but only increasing the number of truffles by 30%; and no effect in Soil 3.
The shape index of truffles in single-fruitbody digs was higher in nests than in the bulk soil.
When they analyse truffle density, they saw that density of the truffles measured ranged between 0.8 and 1.9 g ml−1 with no differences were found between bulk soil and nests in any moment of the season.
The weight of truffles in the bulk soil in one of the seasons was influenced by soil properties, with more sandy soils tending to present higher weights.
Nests are a common practice in Spanish truffle orchards. The results demonstrate, for the first time, that nests effectively modify several agronomically important traits:
Fruit bodies grown in nests showed more spherical shapes and lower probability of infestation by Leiodes, thus resulting in improved truffle quality. Shape improvement could be easily explained by the lower and more uniform resistance to penetration of substrate. Lower levels of pest infestation could be related to the light, loose-structured substrate hindering the mobility of adults or impairing the bonding of eggs to soil aggregates. This result concurs with the incidental observation, during the field sampling, that in truffles growing partly in bulk soil and partly in a nest, Leiodes galleries were mostly located on the soil side.
The proportion of truffles infested by Leiodes was lower in nests than in bulk soil:
Nests clearly increased FB depth. This is very appreciated by Spanish growers, who feel that these FBs are less exposed to abiotic and biotic damages and are more unlikely to suffer from irregular or imperfect ripening.
Nests increased the number of FBs per dig in two of the soil blocks. the increased number of FBs in nests could be due to enhanced FB survival. Considering peat properties and environmental requirements for FB growth, high water availability and aeration in nests could be pivotal in this process.
The higher number of truffles per dig found in nests could also be related to enhanced fruiting initiation. Nest installation creates an abrupt discontinuity in the bulk soil/substrate interface.
Nests seem to particularly promote fruiting in early season. This could be due to the fungus finding conditions encouraging early fruiting initiation, early ripening or increasing the growth rate.
In conclusion, nests effectively increased truffle depth, improved shape and decreased Leiodes infestation, without decreasing maturity in single-fruit body digs.
I have to say that several growers complain about that the aroma of truffles found inside nests is not as good as in soil, probably new research that is currently being done will show that. Of course, adding the peat moss, we are changing the bacterial community that is one of the main producers of the truffle aroma volatile compounds…
Again, congrats to the research team for this work!
The last months the CITA research center, in Spain, has published two great papers analyzing the truffle fruit bodies from two seasons in different soil types and for the first time inside spanish wells with peat moss.
the authors wanted to check if in Fruit Body (FB) clusters, the weight of the largest FB would show a negative relationship with the weight of the remaining FBs, due to the local resource depletion or inhibition mechanisms hypothesized by other authors; and if the differences among soils and with substrate would affect relationships among FB development characters, since soil properties and spanish wells are able to influence these characters.
Results for the truffles that fruit alone are:
(i) fruiting depth did not show a significant relationship with any other character,
(ii) FB weight showed a strong negative relationship with the shape index (i.e., bigger FBs having more irregular, less rounded shapes), and
(iii) the Harvest Date showed a strong positive relationship with spore maturity, that initially looks obvious. The Harvest Date showed a significant and negative relationship with FB weight in the substrate, and 2 kind of soils, that could be related to the loss of weight during winter. Note February is one of the driest months in Spain, and this is why several growers water during winter.
As an example, in our own farm this winter we have already irrigated 6 times this harvest season since late November (9 times last year)
And the results for the truffles that fruit in clusters are:
i) fruiting depth did not show a significant relationship with any other character,
(ii) the weight of the largest FB in a cluster showed a strong positive relationship with the combined weight of all the other FBs in the cluster, and
(iii) the Harvest Date did not show a significant relationship with the weight of the largest FB in the dig.
In the substrate of the spanish wells and one of the soils, the weight of the largest FB in the cluster showed a strong negative relationship with its shape index (again larger truffles get the worst shape) . In the substrate the Harvest Date showed a significant and negative relationship with the weight of the remaining FBs in the cluster, so again we have to mind that peat moss dries up more than surrounding soil, and as growers, we better measure with probes and water accordingly.
On the other hand, when we check these following figures, looks like there is a better weight in the largest truffle in the cluster at 10-20cm, that is where we normally want them to fruit when we create the spanish wells with substrate:
shape index is better in the top shallow truffles, guess that compaction is lower there:
The soil depth at which truffle FBs grew did not show any causal link with FB weight, shape, or spore maturity for any of the soil or dig typologies analyzed. This suggests that, under the experimental conditions, weight and maturity do not depend on FB location throughout the soil profile.
In that experimental site the existing ranges in microclimatic variables did not trigger changes in weight or maturity throughout the soil profile for any soil typology.
Bigger FBs showing more irregular, less rounded shapes.
No causal link between FB maturity and weight was found.
A positive relationship between the weight of the largest FB and the weight of the remaining FBs was clear among the FB clusters of all the analysed soils. The relationship between these development characters is very strong in the substrate, which is much looser than the bulk soil.
This was not expected. Authors had initially hypothesized that local resource depletion would trigger compensating mechanisms between FB survival and FB size in a dig, in consonance with the fact that, before summer, the density of T. melanosporum FBs (still immature) in the soil is much higher than the density of ripe FBs localized by dogs in the fruiting season.
Again, lots of interesting data. Congrats to the research team.
With a black truffle harvesting season that runs from mid-May to early September, and volumes increasing year after year, truffle growers in the southern hemisphere encountered a full-blown pandemic and completely closed borders, which of course nullified export possibilities. In July some restaurants in some countries reopened and demand recovered somewhat, both domestic and export. Even so, several truffle growers explain the nightmare of searching for new shipping channels, some through unusual hubs. In this link you can see the potential maps for truffle cultivation in some of these countries.
Anecdotally rot levels were higher than the past 4 years, probably due to
· Impact of severe drought followed by heavy rains across the truffle growing regions of eastern Australia
· Longer rotation between hunts due to lack of access to markets – many producers not selling their crop
The Manjimup/Pemberton region in Western Australia again produced over 80-90% of Australia total production of T. melanosporum
Total sales of Fresh Truffle were down, unsold product being “dumped” or frozen, either to be re-used in the orchard or sold later. Actual frozen volumes are unknown and subject to speculation.
Domestic Fresh Truffle Sales: Difficult to ascertain with most of Australia’s F&B Industry on a stop-go-stop during the entirety of our fresh season. In past 2 years Domestic Sales of Fresh Truffle have been estimated about 1.2t – this year it is “guessed” at less than 500kg given Melbourne was “closed” for the majority of the season. Another contributing factor domestically was broken logistics with shipments across Australia taking up to 2 weeks rather than 48 hours in a usual year – that time delay does not work for sending fresh truffle.
Export Fresh Truffle Sales: Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicates Exports of Fresh Truffle from Australia were 6.9t – down 13% on the past 2 years. Again all the Covid-19 factors that resulted in broken logistics, higher freight costs, a F&B industry in turmoil, credit risk and consumer uncertainty in all contributed to lower fresh truffle exports from Australia
TRUFFLE GROWING IN NEW ZEALAND
Hard to get real data in this country as growers are still very silent. Probably they did not produced more than 500kg.
The former president say that “realistically, the current market for fresh truffle in NZ at the moment may be about 250 kg per season. We need to get an export market going”
The production is growing including a proportion of Bianchetto (perhaps 20%).
NZ was one of the countries that did better with Covid, so truffle season was still okay, as NZ came out of Lockdown in May, as the season commenced. So the whole season run on mostly Level 1 of 4. Sales were steady for the whole of the season.
TRUFFLE GROWING IN SOUTH AFRICA
In this country most plantations are still young, so the season 2020 was quite good for some growers, producing 50% more in yield than last year. Growers were able to travel with special permits for harvesting to the farms that are within our own province. But courier services were unreliable during lockdown.
Covid interrupted sales to restaurants as the government had to close all fine dining establishments therefore growers were unable to sell to chefs as before. A whole new market of private sales opened up. More and more people learned to cook at home, seeking more interesting and luxurious ingredients.
Some farmers actually left their truffles in the land hoping for a better season next year.
So generally truffle sales in South Africa was very good this season, but due to the Corona Virus pandemic and many borders being closed, it is hard to establish a realistic result of quantities produced in South Africa. My guess after talking with several growers is around 200 kilos produced.
TRUFFLE FARMING IN CHILE
Chile has about 300 hectares of black truffle plantations. The 2020 season accounted for 1.35 tons of black truffle, 60% more than in 2019, which reached 800kg. Export complex at the beginning of the season due to Covid, but then improved especially at the end of it.
In the season that ended at the beginning of September, there was a significant increase in national consumption (gastronomic use), reaching approximately 25% of production (in 2019 domestic consumption was around just 10%) and 55% was intended for export. It is worth bearing in mind that the practice of reinoculating plantations with spores (spanish wells) also generates significant truffle consumption. The effects of the CIVID pandemic were strongly felt in the difficulties of internal and external logistics and in the decrease in demand from foreign customers due to the closure of the HORECA channel (hotels and restaurants) in Europe, the United States and Asia. It should be taken into account that Brazil and Mexico are two of the main countries importing Chilean truffles, whose demand was zero. However, with the rebound in external demand beginning in mid-July and the significant increase in domestic consumption, the marketing of fresh truffles was able to recover from the pessimistic outlook. More information on the website of the Chilean Truffle Growers Association.
TRUFFLE FARMING IN ARGENTINA
This year the season began with the restaurants and hotels closed and some small producers were not even able to reach their plantations for the hunting, until well into the season.
Despite the pandemic, interest in black truffles in Argentina is on the rise and many consumers, confined to their homes, decided to enjoy truffles. Which was a challenge for all producers, testing the logistics of each one, taking into account how sensitive the truffle is in its transport and also having increased the delivery points with a lower weight per order than last season, due to the lack of restaurants in operation and having more orders from consumers in their homes. The main Argentine producer so far (who has provided me with this information), Trufas del Nuevo Mundo, offered imaginative proposals like an online truffle hunt.
We estimate that the production in Argentina could have reached 250 kg, which allows it to reach an interesting volume to export. Regarding the planted area in the country, it is estimated between 110 and 120 Ha. With a total of at least 15 truffle growers. The largest amount of truffle is concentrated in the province of Buenos Aires, and it is currently the province with the largest amount of Kg produced. Some truffle plants also continue to develop in other provinces such as Neuquén, Rio Negro, Chubut, Córdoba and Tucumán.
In Spain we think the total harvest of black truffle (melanosporum) has been around 80-100 Tons, like previous season 2018-19. From the figures I see in France looks like volumes were pretty low and Italy produced some more than other seasons.
Figure from the last season in the Estación de Mora de Rubielos (Teruel) whole sale truffle market (means dirty truffle, all qualities mixed, not graded yet), the largest truffle market in Spain:
Blue line: whole sale minimum priceRed line: whole sale maximum price
We start the new black truffle season in Spain in 2 weeks. Even at the beginning of summer truffles were formed properly, in lots of areas season look pretty bad as we had a hot summer, plus there was a lack of rain specially at the end of summer and this fall. Looks like Italy and France is not gonna be better. So a typical year where prices should go up, but due to Covid and lack of demand probably they will be pretty low. Good luck everyone!
lots of growers have approached me the last months asking why I don´t post anymore and I realized I unattended my blog without even noticing.
The reason is that I took a sabbatical year to do a trip around the world with my family. That simple 😉 and it has been a total disconnection, even social networks, as I did not even take my mobile phone to this journey. It´s been a terrific experience I do recommend anyone.
I returned with all bateries charged, as a truffleholic missing my team, my trees, my farm and my truffles and looking forward new truffle adventures.
During this trip it was schedulled to be visiting several growers in new Zealand and lecture at the annual meeting there, but Covid cancelled most plans. Hope to be able to meet my kiwi friends/growers sooner than later.
Fortunately we got trapped in French Polinesia (I know, so hard….), where we have been the last half year and just returned home safely in Barcelona.
I hope all of you are OK during this pandemic. Luckely I have been living in free Covid areas until now. Hope we can manage with all projects we have overseas, although face to face visits will have to wait.
I love writing this blog. I have been doing that for so many years. Enjoyed sharing our experiences, research, receiving your feedback (we are a huge community: it is amazing that this blog receives almost 40.000 visists annually) but honestly the last years we are getting more and more busy and it is hard to get time to sit and write, plus other social networks (twitter…) are faster, immediate, so I´m not sure I will be able to take care of it as I used to.
Anyway, we´ll find ways to stay connected, plus I can´t help sharing about my passion.
We just want to make public that the collaboration agreement between Micofora and Carolina Truffieres has arrived to its end. From now on Carolina Truffieres will keep on producing and providing truffle trees under their own protocols, criteria and quality standards. We wish them all the best in the truffle world. See you truffling over there!
Last truffle season is Spain was pretty good in volumes, growers enjoyed although prices drop quite a bit from last year. So growers with irrigation harvested similar quantities but sold their product a much less price. If Spain harvested last year around 40Tons, this year total production should be around 80Tons. Mainly due to good summer rains, that made orchards without irrigation and wild truffieres to fruit.
First truffles in the season had quite a low quality (so prices) due to an excess of rain in the fall that promoted truffles to rot. In fact so many fields where muddy in mid november, so hunters could not even get into the orchards…Moreover, highly productive orchards with irrigation, so with good yields year after year are helping our main pest, the beatle Leiodes to expand, this combined with a mild winter made beatle damage to increase.
See the three figures comparing the last 3 seasons in the Estación de Mora de Rubielos (Teruel) whole sale truffle market (means dirty truffle, all qualities mixed, not graded yet), the largest one in Spain.
Tuber borchii Vitt., also known as bianchetto, is considered to be a valuable species among the white truffles. Plantations have been established in Italy, Portugal, Spain, and New-Zealand. The natural distribution T. borchii is reported to Europe from United Kingdom to Hungary, and from Poland to Sicily. It is considered common in Italy where the species has been widely cultivated and used as a useful organism in molecular studies.
Main host plants of the species include stone pine (Pinus pinea L.) and maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Aiton) but it is also frequent under broad-leaved trees, such as oaks (Quercus spp.), larch (Larix spp.), and beech (Fagus spp.). Bianchetto truffle prefers sandy, free draining, calcareous soils with a pH around 7.
The present investigation focuses on natural Tuber borchii habitats, and plantations, located in Hungary, Portugal, Spain, and New Zealand. The characterisation of soil properties and detailed description of habitats have being conducted in truffières of those countries, and the presence of truffle mycorrhizae is being measured by morphological/anatomical tools.
Previous results show a wide range of host plants in Europe, with P. pinea and Quercus suber L. the main species in Portugal; Pinus sylvestris L., Quercus ilex L., Quercus pubescens Willd., and Quercus coccifera L. in Spain; and Quercus cerris L. and Quercus robur L. in Hungary. Canopy coverage ranges from 10% to 35% in Portugal, 40-80% in Spain and 85-90% in Hungary. Standard techniques are being employed to assess soil chemistry and texture.