Anticipate your first harvest from approximately 5 years after planting your trees assuming good installation management. It is not unusual for production to begin anywhere from 8 to 10 years after planting. An early indicator that truffle is developing is the presence of a brule around the bottom of the tree. Brule is simply an area that appears burnt, where the presence of green vegetation is sparse or non-existent. The truffle puts off an herbicide that causes the vegetation to die off. This is a good sign! Trees will produce a small yield at first but this will increase over time. Not every tree will yield truffle every year. Trees produce a mature harvest at approximately 10 years and onward. Use a trained truffle dog to assist with the harvest. Although truffles are most often found within the first 8 inches or so under the soil and they give off a heady aroma, a trained dog will assure you that you have not missed uncovering any of your hidden treasure.
Site suitability - Determine the suitability of the site you have selected for your trees. Climate, land orientation, soil type and water source are all important. Ideally, a temperate climate is best. Land with a gradual slope and a SW facing orientation provide good drainage and access to maximum sunlight. Soil pH should be fairly basic at 8 and be roughly a third each, loam, sand and clay. We recommend an initial soil test at the time you are selecting your site and about 2 years after you have planted to determine if you need further soil amendments.
Land and Soil preparation - Some soil preparation is nearly always necessary. Allow about 3 months for this phase. If necessary you may need to clear land. You will add recommended amendments as prescribed and till. Adding lime will bring up the pH of acidic soils. The soil analysis and recommendations that you recieve will advise you on how much lime is needed. Truffiere design and layout - A good design will utilize the space available and accommodate an appropriate irrigation system. Expect to plant between 80 and 100 trees per acre.
Infrastructure - You will need to consider fencing and irrigation in your plans. We recommend fencing to protect your seedlings from scavengers such as deer. Irrigation from sources such as a pond or cistern are often necessary to supplement nature. Adequate water in July, August and September are necessary for the development of truffle in the winter. We strongly suggest sprinkle irrigation to ensure that the lateral roots of the tree get the water needed to encourage development of truffles. We have worked with several vendors on all of the above steps and are happy to share the names and contact details of each.
Expect variability in yield tree to tree, year over year. Initial harvest is likely to be small; a few pounds per acre. Mature harvest is reported to be 30 -50 pounds per acre.
Virginia Truffles, LLC
Managing your truffiere is not a 24/7 job but there are things you will need to do. Common tasks are:
There are many things to consider and actions to take when you want to establish your own truffiere. You can choose to plant a few trees or plant several acres. In general we recommend that you plan for the following:
You can plant in the spring before bud burst or in the fall. If you are planting more than just a very few trees, we suggest you use a posthole auger with at least an 8" diameter to dig your holes Gently place the seedling in the ground and use plenty of soil to fill in around the seedling and build up around the hole.
Put a treeguard in place around each tree and affix the irrigation lines.