About our Truffière (truffle orchard)

A truffle orchard is traditionally known in France as a Truffière
(trooff-yeah not truff-er-y} {audio pronunciation},
or simply call it a "Truffle Orchard"

{the poor-spelling/mispronounciation truffery/trufferie was created in Australia in recent years,
it exists in no known dictionary; personally I find it irritating and lacking in horticultural association, piggery and hatchery are too far removed.
although there are some translation hints of " truffery" meaning "deception, camoflage, trickery"
in some languages, draw your own connotations}

The truffière is on a south-west facing slope receiving ample sunlight, but with some shade during the day due to nearby gumtrees (shade wasn't desired, merely a consequence of the site, although it may help reduce soil temperatures by shading from the feeble Victorian Winter sunlight). The entirety of the site is regularly exposed to frosts in winter. An original consideration was that winter cold could reach the ground under the trees. Subsequently truffle horticulture has become aware of the importance of the same regarding spring sun, warming the ground and initiating truffle growth on the roots for the next season. Therefore pruning and grass management keeps this in mind constantly.

The truffière was planted in early 2006 and our first truffles were harvested in 2011 at five years. It is nearly certain truffles were present in 2010 and possibly even 2009, but support from the supplying nursery in Tasmania was not forthcoming in any form, especially access to trained dogs despite promises and broken appointments.

The soil is a red volcanic, free draining soil that is often used for vineyards within the Yarra Valley. The paddock has only been used for cattle not agriculture, so there has been little, if any fertilisers or chemicals used on the land. (the property was originally part of a dairy farm)

Further detail

Download Soil Test

The initial pH was 5.3 and the soil test indicated 50 tonne of lime would be required to bring pH into the 8.5 range. However, I graded the particle size of the local lime supply and determined that only 40% of it was sufficiently fine to react up into the desired range during a short timeframe and applied 150 tonne, reasoning the coarser material would ensure the pH remained elevated for the decades a truffiere is expected to produce.

The one hectare area was deep ripped thoroughly to about 50-60cm (half day), the lime applied and the area rotary hoed by tractor to 20cm (several passes). A quad bike was then used to screen drag the area to an even surface. Trees were planted in rows across the slope at 4.5m spacings, in a staggered layout of oak/hazel/hazel/oak/.... Resulting in a tree layout that appears as a hexagon with a tree at each point and one in centre. If the hazels are removed in future the oaks will remain at even spacing still in a hexagonal layout. Sunlight gets an opportunity to shine along rows at 60 degree angles several times throughout the day. _\ /_

Thinking of growing truffles?

Anyone considering whether they "should" plant a truffière would be well advised to investigate the market thoroughly. Demand in the Australian market is immature and it seems likely an oversupply problem will occur in the near future before hopefully stabilising at a later date. Without market education, and positive consumer experiences with prime quality, ripe, aromatic truffles this future will be threatened.

This information has been provided as a quick overview of the establishment, to help others make decisions, or identify the differences with their own truffieres.

Our Blog section has a few posts related to Growing, Hunting, Harvesting of Victorian Truffles.

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