Reaping What You Sowed
The black truffle is collected here in Spain from November 15th till March 15th. The collection season is regulated by law. Many black truffle farmers stop collecting the ripe black truffle towards the end of February. The reason behind this technique is that the mature black truffle will rot and dissolve under ground, helping that area to reproduce more black truffles in the same area the following years. The black truffle is usually found just under the top soil down to about a 30 cm depth ( a foot or so ). The black truffle is collected with a machete like type of tool. This type of tool helps you lessen the damage done to the truffle mycelium when you remove the black truffle from the ground. It is also mandatory to use this truffle collecting tool when collecting in the wild. Enormous amount of damage has been done to black truffle producing trees in the wild due to improper collecting techniques. It might be one of the main reasons why the finding of truffles in the wild has drastically decreased, in the last 50 yrs or so. People armed with hoes, shovels and rakes recklessly over turning the soil around black truffle producing trees has been detrimental to those trees ever again producing again or for the truffle mycelium to recover and produce again. Once again, always protect your root system as it is the bread and butter of your black truffle farm.
There is so much conflicting information on this subject, it is not funny. Remember that truffles are usually sold for cash and rarely declared on peoples yearly tax form, so who are you to believe?¿?¿?¿ Even thou a black truffle farm takes 12 - 20 years to become fully mature and reach its full production potential, it usually starts producing some black truffles after the 5th - 7th year. Then consistently producing more black truffles every year. Some say the holm oak / downy oak will produce black truffles for about 50 yrs if managed properly, others say that it can produce indefinitely. The fact of the matter is that is that no one really knows. Depending on certain factors such as irrigation, quality and the type of your trees, the amount of truffle spores (mycelium) on the roots and the soil type, people here in Spain usually collect from 20 to 50 kilos ( kgs. ) per hectare, per year after the 10th year or so. Others say they are collecting roughly 100 kgs per year. I Guess its like the story of the fish that got away............Check out what a kilo of black truffles were sold for in your area recently and do the math yourself to see why black truffle farming is so economically interesting.
Dog or Sow
In the good old days, the female sow was used to find truffles. The ripe black truffle emits a pheromone smell similar to a male pig in heat. Hence the females interest in finding him / it. But she also loves munching the tasty black truffle. Some of the old timers who used to use sows were missing parts of their finger tips. They would have to stick their fingers in the mouth of the sow to recover the truffle. Of course, the sow didnt want to relinquish the tasty prize and bit down, sometimes catching the offending finger tip in the process. So dogs are used as a matter of convenience. I have heard it is relatively easy to train a dog to hunt for truffles, with the proper guidance. When choosing a dog, avoid a race that are used for hunting. A hunting dog has the inbreed instinct to chase rabbits rather than chasing truffles. Choose a dog that can withstand cold, wind swept mornings as thats when you will be out looking for truffles. Mid sized poodles would probably be an ideal dog for hunting truffles. They are extremely intelligent and have a good coat of fur to protect them from the cold. Then again, I haven’t fully approached this subject yet since my truffle farm isn’t producing any black truffles yet nor I do not want to have the responsibility of owning a dog at this time.
Deterrents Against Poachers
Someone once asked me about midnight, 2 legged truffle stealing critters, once my farm starts to produce black truffles. My answer was, some night vision googles & a 12 gauge shot gun, should work. Then you could always hang signs along the outside of your fence saying " Danger Mine Filed / Live Ammunition " or something along that line. Then every once in a while, you go out in the middle of the night & set off some loud fire cracker.
In all reality, you will probably find that theft is more of a threat than a reality. Think about it. How many people have truffle sniffing dogs laying around the house?¿?¿ Then go out in the middle of the night ( with or without a moon or flash light ), stumbling around in the dark, trying to dig up a black object in the black of night?¿?¿ It might occur on occasion but I have never actually have heard any black truffle farmer say that he has had any problems with poachers on his land at night. I have heard black truffle farmers complain that they cant sell their black truffles for their real value, thou. A middle man is just like a used car sales man, if he can burn you, he will. Barcelona for me is only a 2.5 hrs car drive. I will be selling my black truffles directly to shops & high scale restaurants, when the time comes.
Huesca Poppy Field