Important Black Truffle Factors
The following on a scale of 1 - 10 (10 being the best / most important ) are a list of factors that influence in a successful black truffle farm.
Climate: 7 - 9. You dont want it too hot in summer or too cold in winter. The air temperature in the summer shouldn't go above 39º or 40º Celsius. The black truffle will bake underground if exposed to excess heat. You dont want major frost or a lot of frozen ground soil on your black truffle farm in the winter. Remember, the black truffle has been introduced into other parts of the world with some degree of success, so do your homework to see if your area of the world qualifies for a black truffle farm. If it doesn’t, there might be another type of truffle that can be grown in your area profitably. In the Almeria desert part of Spain, they are growing a less commercially valuable desert truffle but have a higher yield per hectare, which compensates for the lower selling price.
Trees: 10. Your future black truffle farm depends on a quality tree and a quality inoculation (truffle mycelium spore). Use only reputable nurseries that issue certificates with their truffle trees. Some nurseries will have the truffles DNA tested before they use them for the inoculation. Other nurseries will only use truffles that they have collected from their own truffle farms, so they are sure they are only using tuber melanosporum ( black truffle ).
Water / Irigation: 5 - 10. This is still an unknown area in many aspects. But occasionally watering the truffle trees cannot hurt as long as you dont over do it. Trees / plants have to go thru wet and dry cycles, as do most plants. The truffle mycelium has to have a humid environment to be able to produce truffles. As mentioned earlier, in many parts of Spain now they only install the sprinkler system after the trees start to produce black truffles. In other parts of the world they will install the irrigation system long before planting the truffle trees. Its your call on what you decide to do. Used correctly, a sprinkler system is well worth the money that it costs to install. Remember this old adage - "If you want to be successful at something, copy what other successful people are doing". The same applies here and in many other aspects of life / business. Try to avoid " Do as I say rather than do as I do ", type of people.
Soil / Land: 7 - 9. See Soil for more in-depth info. The holm oak is a very versatile type of tree that grows in many types of climates and soil types. But, as you will be harvesting the black truffle that grows underground, you want to make its surrounding environment as friendly as possible. All types of soil preparation is possible, usually adding lime to raise the PH levels. In this part of Spain, the soil has a natural high Ph balance. Just because the holm oak grows in your area of the world, it does not mean that a black truffle farm will work where you live. It is the soil that determines what type of truffle is adequate to farm where ever you live.
Tilling: 6 - 9. As little as possible, done only in Spring or early Summer. Avoid tilling to deeply and close into the tree. Once the burn / brule appears, till well outside of the burn / brule area. Some black truffle farms in Spain are never tilled (except for removing the weeds from around the trees manually once a yr) and produce wonderfully. Others that have been tilled excessively have been ruined. The objective in tilling is to remove unwanted weeds and to air the soil but always try to avoid damaging the truffle tree roots. Remember that your trees roots are the bread and butter of your truffle farm, so take care of them. People have a tendency to forget this because the roots are out of site.
Even thou you have done everything correctly, there are no guarantees that your black truffle farm will every produce a single black truffle. There are still a lot of unknown factors that affect how, why and when a black truffle farm if or ever will produce a single black truffle. But dont let this negative warning discourage you. There are many black truffle farms producing profitably all over the world. When I first started contemplating establishing a black truffle farm, someone with a lot of experience in this field, gave me some well intentioned advice. He told me to invest my money in a rental property, as there are no guarantees that a black truffle farm will ever produce a single black truffle. I am glad I didnt heed his advice, as I have no regrets. It has been a lot of hard work so far. I have invested a lot of time, money, blood, sweat and tears up until now but I am thrilled by what I have accomplished and what the future holds. Use my knowledge that I´ve published here to your advantage. All trees and plants are living creatures and should be treated with care and respect. People who are avid gardeners will tell you that part of having a successful garden is tender loving care. Treat your truffle trees the same way and they in return, will pay you back in kind.
There is a lot of misinformation on the internet about the black truffle and if it is possible to grow them commercially. I have come across web pages that blatantly say that black truffles farms do not exist. Obviously, they do not know what they are talking about. Beware of people selling expensive manuals on how to establish a profitable black truffle farm. I bought Ian F. Hall´s " Taming The Truffle " when I was 1st contemplating the idea of a black truffle farm. Thanks to his informative book, I am now a black truffle farmer. He covers from A to Z what you should do, more importantly what you shouldn't do. Curiously enough, scientists have yet to successfully inoculate any tree with Tuber Magnatum - The Italian White Truffle, as far as I have been able to determine.
A black truffle that is harvested from a farm or in the wild, are exactly the same. Do not let some creative marketer try to convince you that black truffles harvested in the wild are superior in taste or quality. Apparently, you cant even differentiate the 2 thru DNA testing. Take care when ordering black truffles online or in your local shop. There exists a far inferior chinese black truffle that looks very similar to the original black truffle but is no comparison to the real Ma-coy. Always make sure that the vendor stipulates that the black truffle is " Tuber Melanosporum ", " black truffle ", " black winter truffle " or " perigord black truffle ". The original black truffle has such a strong and pungent aroma, you will know when you have the real deal close by.
"If there are so many hectares planted each year world wide with black truffle producing trees, why does supply continue to drop?" is a very common question. A question that I would love to know the answer too as well. Since this is a cash business, its most likely that any money earned is not declared on peoples tax return, so there do not exist reliable statistics. Another reasonable explanation is that a lot of farmers will get involved with this project just to receive government grants for their land and not worry about future potential yields. I still believe that most black truffle farms do not produce any truffles for 2 reasons. Applying the wrong farming techniques and buying low quality truffle trees. Unfortunately, people tend to take advice from the wrong people and ruin their farm.