It has been now 2 1/2 yrs.
since 1st planting my trees. April 2012.
As you can see by the photos below, the black truffle trees are growing slowly but surely. The holm oak is a very slow grower, but they are more or less what you can expect with 2.5 yrs. of growth. Some of the trees are bigger & more robust than others. This can be because a number of factors; the soil is more suited at that spot where the tree is at, the tree might of have been stronger from the nursery, or for some unknown reason. I have asked experienced truffle farmers why this happens & no one can give me a definite answer. Just chalk it up to mother nature doing her stuff. If you look closely, you will notice that some of the tree trunks are very sturdy & have a good diameter. Others seem to be more thin. Once again, its mother nature doing what she does best.
The burnt or dead weeds that you see in some of the photos around the trees are from spraying weed killer. The burn or brule will not become apparent with only 2.5 yrs. of growth on the holm oak. It takes roughly 5 yrs. before the burn becomes noticeable on the black truffle holm oak tree. I had hoped to be able to avoid using weed killer around my trees but that was wishful thinking. On one of my plots of land, the weeds grow something wicked. It would be impossible to keep them in control by hand. So, spraying weed killer was basically the only option I had left. The main active ingredient when choosing a weed killer that wont harm your truffle mycelium is " glyphosate ". Try to find a generic brand rather than using Monsanto products, these people are rich enough.
The holm oak is a gangly type of tree. It doesn't seem to grow in a uniform pattern, as other type of trees do. Remember, it doesn't matter what your tree looks like, what matters is what is going on with the roots system. In a couple of yrs., I will have some of the roots tested to see the mycelium count of the black truffle spore. This usually done about 5 yrs. after planting the holm oak tree.
A neighbor of mine from my town had planted about 3 hectares with the black truffle holm oak 5 yrs. ago. This past winter, many of his trees are showing burns / brules. So, that is a great sign that the truffle mycelium is active under ground. He should be collecting some truffles next yr., albeit a small amount. From here on out, the trees will produce more truffles each yr. until they reach maturity, in about 15 yrs.
Someone else nearby, had planted 2 hectares of the black truffle holm oak at the insistence of his son, 6 yrs. ago. The man had been complaining for the past 6 yrs. that truffle farming was a waste of time, that he had been ripped off, etc. This past winter he collected a few black truffles from his 2 hectare farm. He didn't collect too many truffles but he sure has changed his opinion about farming the black truffle.
You have to remember that when the trees 1st start to produce truffles, the yield is small & gradually gets larger as the yrs. go by.
I have had alot of problems with
rodents, mostly shrew ( small moles ) & mice. These rodents
just love munching on the tender roots of the holm oak saplings.
They might also enjoy the black truffle spore that is inoculated on
the roots. A friend gave me the following idea. I should set up
some perches for birds of prey. So, rather than spreading poison
around my trees, I set up a couple of wooden perches made from some
left over fencing posts. It took some months before I noticed that
any birds were perching there. It is quite common now for me to
arrive at my land to find some type of bird of prey perched there
waiting for a snack to come into view. I still might have to spread
poison for the rodents, but for the time being, I will stick to my
perches as rodent control.