Our 2017 Truffle Season ran from late June through to mid September
2018 will be July/August, extensions dependent on weather
Welcome to Yarra Valley Truffles
We are currently Victoria's biggest producer of black truffle, as well as producers of Victoria's biggest Perigord Black Winter Truffle 1.5kg, in August 2016 (also a world record)
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 are continuing 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, as everything wants to eat it, 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 low price point, 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.
Early season has progressed similar to 2017, with a green Summer lasting until Mid January. From rain on 14Jan2018 onwards there was infrequent rain, so irrigation was of great importance. This was primarily by firehose, focused upon producing trees, as 2017 sales did not support further expenditure on the irrigation system or other equipment.
Truffle sign has been great. There is a significant reduction in surface truffles due to various successful experiments, and pre-season losses have dropped to <3% vs 10% in 2017. (40% in earlier years). Continued research on the few remaining truffle rot issues has contributed signficantly, the mysteries are mostly resolved.
The first half of of May has seen favorable weather in Eastern Australia, hopefully it continues to get colder into June. Current expectation is for early truffles around mid-June, with full season commencing late June/July.
Western Australia is experiencing a late summer season, much like the Victorian 2016. (I'm guessing they won't be exporting May/early-June this year.)
Truffle season commenced after winter solstice, with decent quality from the 25th of June. July production was excellent, followed by a spell of warm weather at the start of August which destroyed a large percentage of the vulnerable 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 out both local & export sales with undercutting and dumping tactics. This meant 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 was as bad as the weather damage in 2016.
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.
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 rainful 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 equaling 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.