We have been with my partner Xavier Vilanova visiting truffle orchards in central Chile for a couple of weeks. Mainly in O’Higgins and Maule regions. Most orchards are still young and nonproductive yet, but it is amazing that some 3 years old Quercus ilex plantations have already harvested their first truffles, specially in the south of the country.
We all know how hard is to check if we are managing properly our orchard the first years and if truffle is developing and spreading on the ground. The new molecular tools with Real Time PCR allow us to quantify the aount of truffle micelium and at the same time to create small tests (different watering regimes, etc) in our farms and check 5-6 months later if truffle enjoy it or not, in order to change some management programs. We will come back to Barcelona with more than 150 samples of soils and mycorrhiza to analyze in our lab from 10 orchards in over 50 hectares.
We have been visiting orchards in Chile for the last 12 years and like Australia or New Zealand is always amazing how trees grow, specially Q. ilex. This host tree has been with difference the best host tree for black truffle in Chile, and most of Q. robur and hazels are being now replaced.
It is funny how with a simple macro lens for the Iphone we can take lovely pics of Mycorrhizas directly on the field. Of course we need to use the microscope later to confirm Tuber specie.
We did as well a workshop for the Chilean truffle growers association on a 8 years old productive truffiere. We still harvested truffles so we had the opportunity to talk about truffle grading and later processing for marketing.
Marcos S. Morcillo