2019's Truffles are now in growth phase and being nurtured January to April,
Next Truffle Season, approx July 2019
Welcome to Yarra Valley Truffles
Our first Perigord Black Winter Truffles were found in 2011, and in 2016 we unearthed a world record breaking 1.5kg truffle
Located one hour from Melbourne, in volcanic red soil amongst the undulating hills of Victoria's Yarra Valley, and surrounded by vineyards, the cool climate is similar to the Perigord region of France from where the Black Winter Truffle (Tuber melanosporum) originates. Cold winters, warm summers and high rainfall of the Yarra Valley region are beneficial to both truffle and wine production. The truffiére was planted in 2006 and commenced initial production in 2011 at 5 years of age.
Since then, harvest volume has continued to increase annually, reaching commercial (full time workload) quantities in 2015, at 9 years of age. With observation and research into all aspects of truffle growing, the productive areas/trees of our truffiére continue to expand each year.
Our goal is to produce and market the highest quality truffles possible. Ripening truffle is first located, then further monitored until reaching peak quality. Although labour intensive, this approach ensures the truffles are harvested at peak aroma and flavour. The best description of this process is that it's equivalent to frequently monitoring, then harvesting a vine ripened tomato. With 3-5 weeks from the initial first aroma's, the often used method of simply harvesting once there's a smell or a dog reaction does not result in good truffle. Waiting for peak ripeness does result in significant losses, to animals, insects and even other fungi. Hopefully other growers will eventually choose to do this for best quality, rather than produce max volume at a lowest possible price, which frankly does not produce truffle worth eating.
Our truffiére is maintained organically, promoting a fully natural, healthy soil & environment. No fertilisers or herbicides are used.
It's been an interesting start to the growing season, there's already abundant truffle signs throughout the truffle orchard in early January, to an equivalent amount usually only present in March during previous years.
There's been little rain since mid December, but this years variations to overall management, especially with the lessons of the 2018 season, has so far yielded great results.
Potential for this season is currently extremely high, however, there's always been a new environmental factor each year to join the list of known detrimental conditions.
Thus constant monitoring of the developing crop is important.
An extremely cold June start to Winter unfortunately was not sustained, with no frosts and warm days in July which resulted in many truffles spoiling before being fully ripe. There was also frequent rainfall along with airport export deliveries significantly impacting available harvest days. Enough good truffle remained for orders, but losses were substantial, and production unpredictable.
Early August had a couple of frosts, but damage from July's warmth continued to impact the harvest for a while. The second half of August had proper winter weather at last and production improved substantially into early September.
Early season progressed similar to 2017, with a green Summer lasting until Mid January. Rainfall from 14th January was nearly non-existent until May, so irrigation was of great importance. In fact rainfall for the truffle growth season, January to September was under 300mm, and only 492mm for the entire year, well below the average rainfall of 700-1100mm The accumulation of multiple environmental factors, along with an attempt to reduce labour involved, resulted in an overall yield no better than 2017's realised sales volume. At least all production was sold and met all commitments, so an improvement in marketing for 2018.
A poor season overall, but the lesson's learned from these are leading to a bumper crop in 2019.
Truffle season commenced after winter solstice, with decent quality from the 25th of June. July production was excellent, followed by a short spell of warm weather at the start of August destroying many ripening truffles. Production recovered somewhat in second half of August, and truffle continued to be found well into September.
Unfortunately the markets we had access to were saturated with cheap truffle from a few Western Australia producers, wiping out both local & export sales with undercutting and dumping tactics. Additionally several orders which had reserved most of harvest, did not eventuate due to either insincerity or the aforementioned dumping practices.
It became apparent that it wasn't worth expending the effort to harvest all ripe truffle in August, so existing orders were satisfied, and the remainder lifted for spore, or left to rot in soil and spread by soil cultivation. The overall impact on harvest sales was as bad as the weather damage in 2016, with only 20% of the harvest sold as fresh truffle, the rest recycled.
A cool summer with reasonably frequent rainfall saw a greener than normal season. This meant the trees were more active and supplied a greater amount of carbohydrates for truffle size increase throughout Feb-April(May).
Near surface signs first commenced a little earlier in mid-January, and by April it was apparent overall harvest volume had again increased, (assuming it would survive to maturity). Trees in previously non-active areas of the orchard responded to a change in management, taking overall truffle bearing trees to 33% of the truffle orchard.
A great productive season that should have seen a good return.
The 2016 season was severely delayed and affected by a late winter and high median temperatures compared with previous 5 seasons. Full volume harvesting was did not occur until late July, yet still concluded in early September.
Overall truffle production was close to triple 2015 volume, but this increase was fully negated by the season's abnormal weather.
A very dry December/January was followed by high rainfall in Autumn. Developed management techniques from past seasons dealt with this, and 90% of the crop was intact at start of season (compared with past average of 40% to 60% intact). However the warm winter ultimately caused further 75% losses with final ripe harvest only equalling the 2015 volume.
The number of producing trees increased to 29% of the orchard, with clear signs of further improvement in future.
The 2015 truffle season ran throughout July & August, with a few final truffles for Father's Day in September. Cold May/June weather had surprisingly little effect on season start, with properly ripe truffles again commencing in early July. Weekly production continued to increase through July, and tapered off sharply after a mid-August warm spell.
A cool start to summer with sufficient rain kicked off the growth cycle well. February/March saw surface truffles start appearing and there was a 50% increase in the number of productive trees to 24.9%. There was also a nice harvest of hazelnuts.
Previous Seasons 2011-14
Initial production commenced in 2011 at Year 5 with a couple of kilograms of saleable truffle, outweighed by rot/insect/surface damaged. The next few years saw an improvement in harvest amounts, with saleable yield approximately doubled each year for 2012/13/14/15. Different rot/damage issues with insects and weather presented each season, leading to development of cultivation techniques. There was continued improvement of both canine and human skills with both locating truffle & identifying optimal ripeness.