Tree farms and Truffle trees

RushWayne rushwayne at
Wed Mar 4 16:02:01 EST 1998

Dan Wheeler posted his talk on truffle farming for the
class he is giving for the Clackamas County Farm Forestry

On first reading, this is encouraging, but we need better
information before we can conclude that deliberate
inoculation of fir groves with truffles can actually
succeed. (I will be as happy as anyone if it proves true,
since I am making my own attempts at truffle

In the case you described of the Georpora "planting,", since
that species had been found in the area, it is certainly
possible the mycelium was already present at the site
where the mature specimen was buried.  Then,
hormone-like substances from the mature fruiting body
could well have stimulated fruiting of the resident
mycelium. This would not amount to the same thing as
successful inoculation, because  no spore germination
would be involved.  This interpretation is supported by the
short period of time (less than one growing season)
required for the appearance of the second  specimen.

Stimulation of existing mycelium could conceivably also
be involved at Jones Creek farm if there was repeated
application of pureed fruiting bodies to the area during the
fruiting season.  However, I am not yet convinced that
there was an increase of production at Jones Creek above
what would have occurred naturally during the same time. 

In the case of the Jones Creek tree farm, the baseline
collection was done in a drought year.  The drought could
easily have influenced the number of truffles found, as
well as the species. If production was higher after a
number of wet years, that would not at all be surprising,
nor would it be surprising that the most commonly
collected species changed. What we're missing here is the
control.  Were there areas of the tree farm left
uninoculated? What happened to production in uninoculated
areas over the same period of time?  

You note that, quote, In 1990, a 6x8 foot area produced .5 pound of Tubers.
This suggests 453.75 pounds per acre, an
increase of 978 percent from 1986. Endquote. But what was the production from
the whole baseline area in June
of 1990 (or June of other years following the baseline
collections)?  When I went on the NATS foray to this tree
farm in February of this year, I hunted over a wide area
and found fewer truffles than I had found in forays to
comparable but uninoculated sites elsewhere.  As you
know, truffle harvests can vary enormously from one tree
to the next, so the production in one small area can't be
relied upon to estimate the wider harvest.  Also, you don't
say whether the tubers found in this small area were
found all at once, at the same time of year as your
baseline collection, or whether they perhaps were
collected during a different season or over a longer period
of time.

I would suggest caution before concluding that truffle 
inoculation is indeed a commercially reliable venture in
the Pacific Northwest (your "guarantee" of money back 
if it works notwithstanding!)
--Rush Wayne

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