Truffle Growing Industry

Truffle Growing 1

There are likely over 200 truffle installations planted in the US ranging in size from a few trees to over 12,000 in one orchard. These trees have been supplied by several trusted sources across the US. Several orchards are already in production.

After much trial and error the first crop of truffle was reportedly harvested in Northern California in the 1980s followed in the 1990s from orchards in North Carolina.

Several nurseries are now well established and selling the young seedlings. The demand for truffles themselves has been growing exponentially with the increase in numbers of chefs and other food connoisseurs who are aware of this delicacy being grown in North America. Their popularity is certain to increase as the public awareness of the domestic truffle production and the desire for local foods continues to expand.

Truffles grow underground in a mutually beneficial relationship on the roots of ornamental filbert and certain oak tree species. Because of this, the production of truffles is very different from other mushrooms. Inoculated trees are planted in organized patterns in truffiƩres, truffle orchards. These orchards are maintained and irrigated for several years until the trees and the fungus have matured sufficiently to begin to produce truffles.

Dogs are scent trained and used to locate the truffles which are usually 4-6 inches underground. Some members have their own dogs to hunt truffles but several also contract with other handlers to hunt truffles in their orchards.

Truffle Growing 2In 2005 several of the growers, realizing that the exchange of ideas would be beneficial for the whole industry, organized into a non-profit, North American Truffle Growers' Association (NATGA.) Now in its eighth year, it has about 50 farms as active grower members.

The website for the organization is www.trufflegrowers.com. If you are interested in growing truffles, there are links to several other informative websites.

In the mid 1970's the first infected plants with Black Truffles were raised under controlled conditions in France and Italy; and the first truffles were harvested from these trees in 1977. This initial discovery began the continued upward movement of worldwide truffle production and spurred the early phases of a new industry.