Some American Truffles

truffler1635 at truffler1635 at
Tue Oct 31 03:00:09 EST 2000

In article <8tkc71$t1h$1 at>,
  Tom <drwho at> wrote:
> A quick question. Has anybody tried to raise truffles and if so what
> were the results. I am interested in doing this.
> Tom
Truffles have been cultivated several times in the US. I believe I have
done it myself, although to be cautious, it must be called "production
inhancement" at this time.

Using truffle-inoculated trees obtained in France, Franklin Garland
planted 750 oak- and filbert-inoculated trees in North Carolina. His farm
is now in production, and he was the first _confirmed_ T. melanosporum
producer in the US.

Another person using trees from the same source apparently grew some form
of truffle, which was sold as T. melanosporum in San Francisco. His last
name was Griner, I've forgotten the first name. He was cultivating these
trees near Ukiah, CA, and supposedly had 47 trees in production.

A recent forage by the North American Truffling Society to the Aberdeen,
WA area confirmed that Douglas fir inoculated by Gary Menser several
years ago _still_ have T. melanosporum mycorrhizae present. While no
sporocarps were found, it is interesting that the potential for T.
melanosporum production still exists for these trees.

Charles Lefebre, current NATS president, announced he had gotten 3
seedling Douglas firs to form mycorrhiza with T. gibbosum (I presume it
was done with T. gibbosum var. autumnale). The time and controls
necessary to produce confirmed seedlings make proof discouraging
economically, at least for now.

The first inoculation site I attempted to grow T. gibbosum and other
species at remains to this day among the most productive sites in the US.
Initial exploration by NATS in 1985 and 86 showed that approximately one
in 25 or 30 trees at this plantation was producing T. gibbosum. So there
was an established level of production prior to my inoculation.

Within two years after inoculation, the stand was producing 300-1300
lbs./acre/year. The figures are confusing because of the number of
species found and the evolving sense of what constitutes a separate
species or variety. This stand has produced at least 4 species of
truffles with what I would judge to be economic consequence: meaning the
ability to find one or more pounds per man-hour of searching.

However, my best production to date was approximately 5 lbs. collected in
one hour during 1990. This collection took place two rows away from my
initial inoculation. Which doesn't surprise me, but apparently surprised
a lot of other people. During 1989-1990 I attempted to mark trees with
colored ribbons representing different hypogeous fungi (truffles) found
with these trees. Even when tied loosely, the ribbons soon broke from the
increased girth of the trees: truffles increase tree growth. Tuber
gibbosum, for example, is associated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria
(Rhizobium sps) and apparently acts "as a fungal prophylactic" to its
host trees, according to Dr. James Trappe. I have documented one seedling
tree, planted as a replacement for a cut Christmas tree, that was 22-
inches tall when planted in February, 1990. By October, 1990 that tree
was well over 10.5 feet tall, as measured by a 10-foot spacing stick. I
personally estimated the height at about 12.5 feet, which would mean a
growth rate of over 10 feet in a single year. After the initial truffle
inoculation, most of the trees in this plantation began putting out 5-8
foot leaders, suggesting they were pretty happy trees.

Truffles which have had confirmed collections from this site include:
Tuber californicum, T. gibbosum var. autumnale, T. gibbosum var. gibbosum
(one of the very few confirmed locations of this variety), T. murinum, T.
sphaerosporum, T. sp. nov., and T. aniae. Other species may also exist,
but have so far defied my ability to distinquish them.

On January 6, 1997, a joint Oregon Mycological Society/North American
Truffling Society forage was held at the site. At least 50 people
attended, many of them people who had never found a truffle before. In
the approximately 90 minutes before heavy rains shut down truffling, even
rank amateurs who had never seen a truffle before (let alone find one)
had found a pound of truffles. Some found nearly 3 pounds in that time.

The largest truffle I saw found was slightly more than 4 inches in
diameter, and weighed 5.75 ounces.

After inoculating that plantation, I also inoculated 3 other sites in
Oregon and Washington to confirm the process and to test the
effectiveness. 100% of these plantations are producing far more truffles
today than they were before truffle inoculation.

To date I have cultivated or grown 70 species of fungi, including several
poisonous species with no culinary value (such as Scleroderma areolatum
and Paxillus involutus). All of these fungi where not present before
inoculation, but began fruiting shortly after inoculation (usually 6
months to 2 years).

Daniel B. Wheeler

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