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July 18, 2021 at 6:07 pm in reply to: Help with irrigation, yield, and price for business plan #5436
Here are my non expert answers. For our business plan we have used 30# per acre of T. melanosporum as an ideal situation target. It is a reasonable, yet not given number. 100# per acre are possible but not to be expected. So your numbers are reasonable to me.
Price of truffles is more complicated. Often high published price are retail price for premium truffles. Only a small proportion of your production will be sold at that price. That percentage will really depend on your ability to market your product.
For irrigation we have opted for inset sprinklers set every 36 feet. The adventage is that the irrigation is out of the way for working the field, it is less subject failure, but the full coverage results in more wasted water (especially at the beginning), more weed growth, less micro control of irrigation and more costly to install. I still think that was a great compromise, especially that we needed a reliable system that would last for many seasons. With the sprinkler system you have to think also in terms of size of water droplets. Big drops may result in excessive compaction. For water cannon you will have to make sure that you remain above the trees and that you have enough pressure and flow to produce the expected coverage.
I would think that it would depend on the truffle species. My understanding is that for T. melanosporum requires an open canopy. Other truffle species can handle closed canopy but I would not mix the truffle species in the same orchard.
We have decided to actually plant hedges around the orchard which will use a mixture of shrub, trees and hazelnuts. We may get some production there but we are not counting on it and since the hedge is running east to west, the base of the trees will be exposed to the south … We will need several year to see what happens.
Michael, I don’t have first hand experience, but have discussed the matter with several people with that experience. I short it boils down to education with product in hand. Potential buyers are used to one source and are rarely ready to experiment, however when they are presented with the new product and suggested to try they quickly realize that freshness always trumps origin and in some circumstance may even trump price.
For species other than T. melanosporum and T. magnatum they need to have the opportunity to try for themselves and then they realize that they are not only potential substitute but they become an additional tool in their belt.
I have been using the services of
Extension Plant Pathologist – Vegetables & Herbaceous Ornamentals
NC State University Mountain Research Station.
Here page with instruction can be found in their blog
She is also part of the Expert Advisory Group and mad a presentation last September on the topic. View Presentation
I have also been recommended the services of
Mycology Consultant, PhD
but have not yet used his services.
- This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by Fabrice Caporal.
Very good to know. Thank you.
As mentioned in my post of the September 9th we will not top the trees yet but prune for shape and health of the trees. For the shape we will try to promote the upright growth pattern.
We have been studying the topic quite intensively lately. My understanding is that it boils down to what you want, what you are willing to do, and the tree species.
I learn that pruning is not slowing down the tree growth, on the contrary invigorates it. Pruning results in the energy reserve of the tree to be redirected on the remaining buds promoting their growth. So the more you fight with the tree the more it will fight back until it will exhaust its resources.
By reducing the canopy we reduce the amount of leaves, and thus amount of sugar the tree will produce, and thus reducing the sugar available to the truffle. Is this a problem?
We have planted English White Oaks which have a fast growing habit, there is not much we can do about that, so what we will try to do is to redirect that growth in a way that is not closing the canopy. We will NOT top the trees but will reduce them striving in maintaining their good structure with a single leader branch. We will prune the tree following the guidelines as explained in this Master Guardner Class video. Only the future will tell. We will make sure to keep you posted with our results.
Elise, tractor size is important to consider. When using earth engaging implements it is important to have a bigger tractor as it allows you to use wider implements saving you time and trips up and down the rows. However you also have to consider weight. Compaction is your enemy in the truffière so you need to make sure you are using the proper tires, that you limit the use of the tractor as much as you can. One of the use of the tractor could be for mowing, but this year I found that using a zero turn mower to be a significant improvement because of its maneuverability and its light weight. Please view my tractor post in the Equipment Q&A forum and be on the lookout for a zero turn mower review shortly.
Also, consider getting your tractor used. Unlike car you assess the age of a tractor by its hours of use, rather than by its model year. You can find older tractor with few hours for a good discount on Craig’s list.
- This reply was modified 10 months, 2 weeks ago by Fabrice Caporal.
For the past 2 years we have been using the Davis Ventage Go Pro2 weather station with an EnviroMonitor Gateway and 2 nodes each connected to 60 cm Sentek drill and drop sensors to monitor soil moisture content (% water) and temperature every 10 cm down to 60 cm. The weather station is fully autonomous, with no requirements for power or internet connection.
I subscribe to the WeatherLink 15 minute update so I get data report every 15 minutes through the cellular network. I also set up my system to import all the weather data into a spreadsheet for analysis and historical records.
Because of the high variability of the soil type in our site, it has been very challenging to reliably translate the water content into water potential data. This year we have added METER Teros 21 sensors to the EnviroMonitor nodes to remove the soil type from the equation.
Finally, we have a pressure switch sensor to record when irrigation is turned on and off.
We have experienced a few ups and down but Davis technical support has been very diligent and responsive in helping us solve the problems.
This solution was quite pricey but was essential for our situation. We have two nodes placed at opposite side of our soil type spectrum (loamy clay – sandy loam) so that we can have a better understanding of the soil condition. We are not leaving on the truffière so the weather station and the sensor are our eyes to help us decide when to turn on irrigation remotely.
Also you can’t improve what you can’t measure. We are storing the data with the intention that when we start producing truffles we will be able to to conduct irrigation pattern tests and see the impact on production.
Because of cost we have limited the number of nodes, but once we will start producing we probably add a few more nodes.
We would get a similar setup without any hesitation, but would probably change a couple things. We would probably not use the Sentek sensors again, or if we would really want to monitor the multiple depth, we would take only one of the shorter (30 cm) sensor to save money, and use Teros 21 sensor in the other locations. The other change would be that instead of a pressure switch sensor, we would use a pressure gage sensor (the switch tells you when water is on or off, the gage gives you pressure readings) so that we could better assess the flow at the sprinkler to have a better measure of the amount of water given to each tree (we have been struggling with reconciling theoretical flows with measured flows).
- This reply was modified 10 months, 2 weeks ago by Fabrice Caporal.
This year we finally had one of the 4 boxes host a family of barn owls. Yeah!
Thank you Fran. Please note that this document is also available from this site on the paper sections. You can read it here.
Are you still loosing trees? If you are producing, do you know if the gophers have an impact on your yield?
Francis, what is the most use you have of the rake around the orchard? I have been wondering if I needed one…
Karen, thank you for the suggestion. In your opinion, what makes them stand apart from others that you have used? What makes it your favorite?