Where do truffles grow?
The black truffle is a fungus that has been used as a delicacy for centuries. But it was not until the end of the 19th century that the art of truffle cultivation began and the first profitable black truffle plantations appeared. Despite the fact that truffle cultivation still harbours some mysteries, a lot of research has been carried out on how it works and several doubts have been clarified about growing truffles.
Did you know that Spain is the main producer of black melanosporum truffle in the world, with around 60% of the world's production? In this article we explain what is known about the cultivation of one of the most valuable foods on the planet.
If you look at the different truffle plantations that are planted all over Europe, you will see that there is no exclusive and defined type of soil for truffle cultivation. There is a wide variety of areas where someone can grow truffles, but when it comes to the soil, there are some guidelines that most of them comply with.
One of them is the pH of the soil. It has been proven that the black Melanosporum truffle only grows when it is between 7.5 and 8.5 pH. We also know that it is good for truffles if the soil is not very compact. This allows the water to filter through without too much difficulty. It is also not necessary for the soil to be of high quality: truffle plantations proliferate in areas with rather low agricultural yields, with limestone soils.
The Mediterranean climate is considered the best for truffle cultivation. They are adapted to the following climatic conditions: dry and warm seasons and wetter seasons with mild temperatures.
It could be said that an ideal climate for truffles would be when in winter there are not many frosts in a row; in summer it only rains occasionally; and in the autumn and spring months the soil remains humid without reaching extreme temperatures or meteorological situations.
It is considered that the average annual temperature in a truffle plantation should be between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius. The maximum average temperature should reach 25 degrees Celsius in the summer months and the minimum should be 5 degrees Celsius in the winter months.
As far as rainfall is concerned, the usual average amounts are between 500 and 900 mm per year. For this reason, it is advisable to have irrigation facilities in case one year is drier than usual.
Where do truffles grow? It has been proven that a truffle needs the roots of a tree to grow. It is an indispensable element for a plantation, and of course research has also been done on the best trees that can "host" truffles.
Holm oaks are the most commonly used "truffle trees" in truffle plantations. Good harvesting results have also been achieved with other species such as oaks, but the holm oak is definitely defined as the best "truffle tree" there is.
These "truffle trees" must be treated from birth so that they end up harbouring truffles. The objective is to achieve a symbiosis between the tree and the fungus so that the relationship between the two is useful for both organisms. There are different ways of achieving this, such as for example putting the roots of the trees in contact with the hyphae of the black truffle fungus to achieve this inoculation which, after a few years, will give us the desired fruits.
How long does it take for the truffle to grow? This is a factor that can vary depending on the plantation, although there is still no definitive answer, as it depends on many factors.
In Spain, the country with the highest black truffle production in the world, it is estimated that a plantation can start to produce results after 8 years, although situations have been found in which results have been obtained with less time.
Indeed, obtaining a high quality truffle is the result of a lot of work... although it also requires a bit of good luck, as there are unknown factors and even similar plantations in similar conditions can obtain great productions, while in others, disastrous results.
Who knows if in the not too distant future we will manage to find all the answers to the mysteries that, after decades of research, are still hanging over these peculiar fungi.
Can you grow truffles?
So... after reading all this information about growing truffles, you are able to answer yourself: can you grow truffles? If you enjoy truffles and you accomplish all the requirements... why not?