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I am posting my response to a question from Nate W. as it is relevant to all prospecting growers.
“Hello I live on Maui island in Hawaii and I am interested in growing truffles. I live on just about 3 acre of property. Our elevation is about 3,800 feet above sea level. Would this be possible to grow in Hawaii?”
Fabrice Caporal of NATGA has forwarded your question about truffle cultivation in Hawaii to me. I do not know of anyone currently attempting to grow truffles in Hawaii; this does not necessarily mean it is not happening. So, if you were to give it a try, you would be undertaking a grand experiment.
Soil: Your soil will be volcanic in origin. You should be able to find your likely soil type and some soil attributes using this web site. In general, you are looking for a medium textured soil with good drainage, modest organic matter content and the potential to raise the pH to about 7.9.
Slope: You will need to safely use farm equipment such as a tractor in the establishment and maintenance of an orchard so too much slope is a non-starter.
Climate: You also need to take into consideration your climate; currently the locations where truffles are cultivated have clear seasons with the truffles, depending on species, being harvested in the fall or winter when seasonal rains return and temperatures drop. Perhaps at 3,800 feet above sea level you have a cool/cold season; I am not that familiar with Hawaiian climatic conditions.
Importation restrictions: I have no idea whether there would be phytosanitary, etc. hurdles to the importation of truffle colonized seedlings
Access to materials: In general, a lot of lime is needed to amend the soil before establishment of a truffle orchard and regularly after establishment. Would you have access to truckloads of lime?
These are some of the issues to consider at the outset. Plus, which host tree species and which truffle species might be suited to your conditions.
It is a lot to think about. I hope this answer is at least slightly useful.
Member, Research Task Force and Expert Advisory Group, NATGA
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