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Biosecurity update No.6 from Plant Health Australia

Written by : Posted on August 25, 2016 : Comments Off on Biosecurity update No.6 from Plant Health Australia

TendrilssnapThe latest (Edition 6 – 19 August 2016) newsletter from Plant Health Australia is available online here.

This marks the release of the latest version of the National Plant Biosecurity Status Report  by Plant Health Australia (PHA), detailing the pests of concern to plant industries and the environment, as well as the entire system that works to combat them.   You’ll find the report here online, in small PDF chapters  or as a single large PDF here (9.5Mb) .

 

Farm Biosecurity Newsletter July 2016

Written by : Posted on July 13, 2016 : Comments Off on Farm Biosecurity Newsletter July 2016

 

Farm Biosecurity 
Newsletter   Friday 8 July
Which plant pest is the greatest risk to producers?
In a recent audit of around 300 exotic plant pests affecting growers overseas, the pest that came out on top with the greatest potential impact if it made it to Australia was Xylella fastidiosa (pronounced Zylella).
That’s partly because over 200 types of plants are known to be susceptible to infection by Xylella, and every year tests show it is capable of infecting more plant species. It’s also because a variety of insects that feed on plants are all thought to be able to spread the pathogen. More

Biosecurity – it’s time for everyone to act!
A new approach to managing biosecurity is underway with new biosecurity acts for NSW and Queensland, placing greater responsibility on producers and reducing government regulation.

Queensland implemented its Biosecurity Act 2014 on 1 July, and NSW is expected to officially implement its new legislation next year.
Queensland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Alison Crook explained what the changes mean to producers. More

Pest identification in Grassroots Agronomy classes

Women with little or no agricultural background who move into farm businesses often bring welcome new skills, but consultant Louise Flohr says many are keen to be more involved with their farming systems.
For the past three years, Ms Flohr, from Agrilink Agricultural Consultants, has been running workshops in South Australia to develop newcomers’ knowledge and practical skills. More

New approach to Johne’s disease in cattle has begun

The new, national approach to Johne’s disease (JD) officially commenced on 1 July and all Australian cattle producers are encouraged to become familiar with the changes.
The new approach, endorsed by the cattle industry and Australian governments, is guided by the BJD Framework and focuses on managing on-farm biosecurity risks rather than controlling disease through regulation, said Animal Health Australia’s (AHA) Executive Manager of Biosecurity Services, Duncan Rowland. More

Congratulations to our winners

Congratulations to the winners of our recent ‘Subscribe and Win’ competition:
Tony from South Australia
Helen from Western Australia
Kathy from Queensland
Melissa from Victoria
Their $100 RM Williams gift vouchers are on the way.
Hope you continue to enjoy reading our newsletter.
In other news
Detection of Asian honey bees in Townsville
Asian honey bees with varroa mites were found in a container stand in a storage yard at the Port of Townsville in Queensland on 27 June. More
Which disinfectants work against Fusarium fungus?
A comparison of disinfectants is shedding light on their effectiveness in killing the fungal spores that cause Panama disease, when used in wash-down facilities, footbaths and dips. More
Please keep reporting unusual ahpids
Please keep reporting any unusual aphids on growing grain crops to 1800 084 881. We need the data for AusPestCheck to map how the pest is spreading. See map
Join AHA on social media
AHA now has a social media presence! We’re now active across FacebookTwitter andLinkedIn.
Media snapshot
Spice wars: winning the battle against ginger disease
In a victory for on farm biosecurity, Australia’s biggest ginger growing family, has returned to fertile fields that disease forced it to abandon five years ago. More
Successful breeding program the first step to Russian wheat aphid-resistant wheat
Murdoch University researchers have bred plant resistance to five of the eight known biotypes of Russian wheat aphid. More
Biosecurity – where do you fit in?
The term biosecurity is becoming more familiar to many people. The practice of biosecurity includes the steps we should all take to manage the negative impact of pests, diseases, weeds, and contaminants entering, establishing, or spreading.More
Forward to a friend
Know someone who might be interested in this newsletter? Why not forward this email or have them visitwww.farmbiosecurity.com.auto subscribe.
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Koolies Nose Knows – training your dog

Written by : Posted on July 11, 2016 : Comments Off on Koolies Nose Knows – training your dog

DSC_0125Where to start?

A little over 12 months ago my dog Silhouette Luca (an Australian Koolie) and I joined a K9 Nose Works class. Luca had developed reactiveness to some other dog breeds and could be quite anxious thanks to a scare he got from a huge thunderstorm. Nose Works gave us the opportunity to work alone with no other dogs.

I remember sitting in our first class watching K9 nose Works trainer Angela’s, presentations and when she asked if any one has any questions I popped up saying how does one find truffles? Yep the class all laughed!

Luca loved this sniffy game and with each class his confidence grew and he was slow and very methodical, most of the other Koolies were fast and furious.

We moved on from scenting Birch to Anise and finally in level 3 class we added Clove oil. We attended a ‘scent trial’ with ‘Scent Games Australia’ and it was a big experience for him and I.

It was about this time my truffle dream popped back into my head and I went off and did a seminar on growing Hazelnuts and Oak trees for truffle production with the Noel Fitzpatrick and Colin Carter. The dream was ignited again. I also went on a ‘Truffle Tour’ where I took Kyra (as Luca is ‘entire‘ that counted him out) where we visited a lovely winery or 3, watched a Lagotto Romagnolo and its handler demonstrate how his dog finds truffle (they pre buried a truffle into the ground an hour or so before we all arrived for this demonstration) and then had a 3 course meal with truffles, of course.

I did lots of reading and bought some ‘fake’ truffle product from France called Canitruff as the truffle dogs in Europe seemed to be trained on this. It was also coming into Truffle season and I contacted many truffle growers seeking a truffle for me and some for my dog (yep all but one thought I was nuts after they asked what breed of dog I had and were was my truffière?).

The truffle has a very short shelf life and the season is June to August, roughly, in Australia. My truffle arrived and I feed some mates (this has been a yearly ritual for me for a decade).

I sliced up some truffle and started to introduce it to Luca, back to basics I learned in K9 Nose Works! Over time Luca would find the scent over the yard, in trees, inside in all the places I hid it.

Stepping up our training I contacted our Koolie breeder (thanks to Silhouette) and asked if they had any dirt I could play in and spent many weekends driving four hours from home and scenting all over the place with truffle scent.

Through a friend I managed to make contact with a grower an hour away from Canberra. They were more than happy for me to come up and they would do a mock up truffle hunt in the orchard.

You need to understand a couple of huge barriers at this point.
1) Growers do not let people and dogs onto their farms for a multitude of reasons. Most have dogs, there’s the fear of introducing biological contaminants and, it’s a fledgling industry covered in secrecy (tighter than the FBI).
2) It looked like Lagotto Romagnolo were the ‘dog’ of choice.
3) Did I tell you when you say you have a Koolie (they all said “what is that?”) and when I add I don’t own a farm and want to test my training…. they think you’re nuts!
4) Farmers with truffle dogs help other farmers without dogs!

Many emails later and lengthy conversations, plus my friend’s hard work (unknown to me) in the background I get an email offering me and the dogs access to their Southern Tablelands truffière at Bredbo, NSW.

The 2nd of July sees Luca and Kyra compete in the first Victorian K9 Nose Works Odour Recognition Trials (ORTs). I, yes I, failed them! My nerves got to me and we didn’t pass as I called it too early with both dogs – I was shattered with myself.

3rd July we left for Canberra with doubt all in my head after I so messed up the ORTrials!

Macenmist_wintertrees
On the 4th July (AKA Koolie Independence Day) we drive 1.5 hours from Canberra to the truffière. Minus 1.5 degrees at 10.30am, heavy fog and ice everywhere, but no rain. I meet the owners, we chat and were offered coffee and headed to truffière with coffee and dogs in hand.

There was no guarantee there would be any ready truffles as the Lagotto’s had been over it the day before.

I was asked what dog did I wish to start with and said Luca. Coffee still in hand and Luca’s leash in the other off we go. (Silhouette Kyra is also on the scent however, not to the level of Luca).

There are a variety of trees 25+ in long rows (I think) and I don’t know how many rows all up. The first row Luca picks up a scent and heads to the tree. I am told ‘yep we pulled one out of their yesterday’. He does this another 3 times (by this time truffier Barbara can see he has sound ability) 4-5 rows in he is on scent again. This time Barb didn’t say ‘oh we pulled one out of there yesterday’, Barb coached me ‘let him smell, there is something there see him sniffing’ Luca looks at me (his signal to me he has found the scent) and I know he has something!

Barb said, ‘Ok time to dig, don’t move him away’ as Luca starts to lightly paw the ground. Both humans put human noses to ground to smell for the truffle and start to move the loose top covering of soil, Luca drops onto his belly and shoves his nose through 4 digging hands and Barb says ‘dig where his nose is’ and she lets me dig.

At the tip of Luca’s nose, I see what could be (remember I have only seen them cleaned up and ready to eat – not insitu) the very tip of a truffle, he had  shown us exactly where the truffle was growing.

Barb produces her speciality ‘digging up truffle tool’ and hands it to me saying this may be easier than your fingers, I take the dessert spoon (yep a dessert spoon) from her and scratch ever so gently around the edge, scared as hell I may damage the truffle. I lay it down and resume using my fingers until a huge truffle is exposed and soon in my hands,
free from the ground.

It’s at this point I forget everything in the exhilaration of what has happened! Thankfully Barb brings me out of this and says ‘let him smell it and treat him’! This reward went on for some time and then Luca started licking my face in favour of chicken treats, Barb said ‘let him, he did this for you, you are his reward, he did this for you let him lick you all he likes’

kooliesnosetruffle1Luca found an 85gm (uncleaned weight) truffle and as far as I know made history as the first Australian Koolie in the world to do such.

Luca and I hope you enjoyed our adventures, and it also reinforces and proves the diversity of the Australian Koolie breed. Anything is possible!  Dream BIG

Follow our adventures and like us on Facebook ‘Koolies Nose’ www.kooliesnose.com.au
Or contact me by email kooliesnose@gmail.com

Karyn Turnbull.


Karyn is an Associate Member of the ATGA (it costs just $200 a year to join) and she has said that she’s happy to help new growers who are just testing their maturing truffle paddocks to give her dogs more practice. Members will see from her story that there a lots of things that the ATGA do, which could have helped her learning process and taken away some of those ‘secrecy’ concerns.

 

Requests for Truffle June 2016

Written by : Posted on June 13, 2016 : No Comments

We will update this list over the next few weeks. There’s the usual warning. The ATGA cannot verify these individuals and companies, so you will need to do your own due diligence.


Dear Association , we are The House of Fine Foods Ltd Hong Kong, we would be very interesting have your products for our market in Hong Kong and Macau where we do have a sister company The House of Caviar. We are already well established on our market as we are operating since 20 years, and be one of a leader in fine foods importer & distributor. under our clients portfolio we have restaurants, supermarket, hotels, we do already sell quite an amount of Italian,French fresh truffle now we are would like expand our offer into a Australian truffle. As I did try make a research but came out not so much, you might have some supplier (small or big ) we don’t mind, that would like start this cooperation. Looking forward your kindly reply, Best Mauro Pusterla
maurop@me.com
http://www.hoff.com.hk/


Jeff Schere
J.schere@comcast.net
Can you connect me with a truffle exporter in Australia, I know the perigord season has just started over there , I am interested in importing direct from the farms to the USA . You can also reach me at 305-764-1495. Thanks, Jeff.


I am writing to follow up on our phone conversation earlier this morning.
As we discussed, we are one of Australia’s largest importers, distributors and retailers of truffles and fresh mushrooms.
We service most of NSW’s high end restaurants and hotels, and also have distribution in Victoria, Queensland & WA. We have a market for both the highest grade, as well as the lower grades.
Our retail store in Darling Point (Gourmet Life) is one of only a few locations in the country!!, where consumers can have the full truffle experience, with a wide selection available for them to smell and select for themselves. We pride ourselves on being the only store in the country for offering this service throughout the year.
During the northern hemisphere season, we offer Italian & Croatian White and French & Spanish Black, and in the winter we source a large number of truffles from primarily Tasmania and WA.

While we have had limited access to NSW truffles over the last few years, we are keen to source many more from the finest producers in NSW and even Victoria.
I am hoping that you can assist us in finding trufferies across the state who are looking for access to the premium market and have their product displayed in our store. We are very keen to work with these boutique producers to promote their product, and ensure the local truffle industry remains strong.

Here is a link from the Daily Telegraph featuring our store.
Kind regards, Josh Rea
josh@waimeatrading.com.au]
02 9363 0775   PO Box 724 Woollahra NSW 2025
www.gourmetlife.com.au

Are you watering correctly?

Written by : Posted on June 12, 2016 : 1 Comment

Probably not.

So how do you find out?

Kourik_Oak_1

Exhibit A.  An unpruned Quercus Robur root system. Source Robert Kourik Understanding Roots

While we’ve advanced our knowledge of much of the cycle of truffle production, how much to water and when to add it remains maddeningly untested.
Ian Hall et al in their book Taming the Truffle which has been regularly reprinted since its publication in 2007 and which has set many of the ‘growing’ ground rules both here and in New Zealand, say …

One might have thought that our lack of knowledge of what triggers the fruiting of edible ectomycorrihizal mushrooms and the factors controlling the size of harvest would have spawned a rash of field-based research, at least for the species that can be cultivated. However, publications on this topic are rare, so it remains a fertile area of research for someone with 20 years to spare – and the research funding to go with it. Hopefully, with irrigation becoming more popular in European truffières  based on some spectacular experimental results and with irrigation being almost mandatory in the drier parts of of Australia and New Zealand, more reliable information on how much water should be applied and when will become available over the next decade.

Sorry Ian, but ten years on we still haven’t done more than confirm that we need to make sure the trees are watered in spring and summer when the truffles are forming. The Truffle and Wine Company in WA shared their extensive experiments in watering, driven by the concern that they were causing truffle rot by over watering (Harry Eslick author 2012 RIRDC report PDF). Their yields were mostly reporting the quantity of unusable truffle. I’m sure they are keeping on going data. Many individual growers have been keeping records for their own use, but the idea of sharing those or taking part in wide field-based research, for whatever reasons hasn’t happened.

What could this research be like?

BlueFrog_MEAscreen1

Perhaps it starts with something like this.

Before the 2015 Conference in Queanbeyan, Wayne Haslam approached MEA (Measurement Engineering Australia) an Adelaide-based company, to demonstrate their soil moisture monitoring products  at the field day.   There’s a video of Sonia van Wegen’s presentation “Getting truffle irrigation right” in the media page from the 2015 Conference.

MEA radio beacon

Sonja van Wegen demonstrates the MEA radio beacon at Blue Frog Truffles.

In a generous contribution to the ATGA members and to further the industry knowledge, MEA agreed to leave the sensors at Blue Frog Truffles for a year, and Wayne Haslam agreed to make the web interface open to members, so they could see in real time what soil moisture and soil temperature was like for the Sutton truffière.  Details of how to access that data on the Green Brain website is here.

Wayne explains the method used and the feedback that he’s been getting (and after winter, he’ll share the details of any production increases based on the changed watering regime.)

“On the Greenbrain, the irrigation applied is shown in green lines as mm and the blue lines are rainfall in mm.  I have been entering both of these. You can also alter period of the graph shown by going to the green stripe on the right hand menu and adjusting the duration shown.  You see more of a pattern with longer periods (options are 1, 3 and 6 months).

BlueFrog_MEA_mositure_6mnths2

As well as the remote probes, there is also a Gdot placed at 200mm depth in the gully, which shows 7 yellow dots for the wettest condition (soil suction <10Kpa) and one yellow dot  (soil suction 60-100Kpa)  This is visual and I usually don’t water until the Gdot gets down to two dots (soil suction 20-40Kpa).
(Wayne explains the Gdot operation in the video below).

I have no idea what is the ideal moisture content for mycelium, and everyone I have asked doesn’t seem to know, and I realise the best moisture content will vary with the soil type.  That is why there are two probes in the Back Block section, with the North probe one  being in gravelly light clay and the South probe in light sandy loam.  If you do a screen print of each and compare them you will see the difference.  They are over 20 metres apart across the soil change boundary.

BlueFrog MEA mositure The Gully

Click for larger images

BlueFrog MEA moisture Back Block

I irrigate at night and can only do 2 stations over 8 hours and I have 8 stations, so that’s 4 day cycles at the driest time.  Electricity is expensive (off peak rates cheaper at night) and I don’t want to over water.  I know from last year’s experience that I didn’t irrigate nearly enough (given the poor truffle result  and their depth) and this year the climate has been similarly dry and I have watered a lot, but still left it a little on the dry side, I think.  Experience in WA showed huge rot levels resulting form over watering, as you probably know.  I water the Back Block 10mm per session as there is more runoff and the trees are bigger and the Gully at 7.5mm due to smaller trees and the contour structure holds the moisture better.

BlueFrog_MEA_temp_6months
Finally the 100 mm temperatures are interesting (just click on the temperature) and you can see that on the three probes, 2 in the Back Block and 1 in the Gully.  It is now dropping on all the sites with daily fluctuations of 5 degrees, summer had a daily temperature up to 26C.  The end of April usually sees a marked weather change so we can expect colder weather from here on.”

(In an update on the 12 of June, Wayne reported “Ground temperatures at Blue Frog Truffles down to less than 5 degrees over night!  Maybe winter is here?”)

Background on watering

iconWater and the wild truffle


As we’ve moved to farmed production of truffles, we brought along the knowledge of how truffles (especially black) grow in the wild in the Mediterranean Basin regions of Italy, France and Spain. That has, until now, dictated where we’ve chosen to plant in Australia. Regions with warm summers with late spring and autumn rain (or irrigation) and cold winters. In Europe areas with summer thunderstorms also seemed productive.


In recent years, when spring and summers were hot and dry, and where the soil dried up to 20 cm deep, (which is where they find truffle in deep open soils), wild truffle production almost ceased. Areas however that had summer rain had only a slightly reduced output of truffle production. This has been a pattern that has continued up to the last winter season 2015-16 when in Spain, wild truffle was not available in commercial quantities and their harvesting period was shortened dramatically. It is clearly the lack of water, as irrigated truffiéres in the same regions who were watering to 30 cm deep (mostly because their  re-innoculating trenches and ‘wells’ were at that depth), produced good crops.


The Spanish experience - translated for Australia


With thanks to Marcos Morcillo’s trufflefarming blog

The truffle is a fungus suited to low water conditions, as shown by its tolerance to dry spells. In the summer in can tolerate 25-28 days without rain, depending on the soil type. Poor soil that is dry and porous facilitates the development of the long, branching roots beneficial to truffles. This water stress, in turn, promotes the production of lignins and tannins, which can be used later by the truffle mycelium.


A comparison of the statistics of precipitation and truffle production shows there to be a correlation between good production and precipitation rates of the order of 150 millimetres between January and February.  They also show that each stage of the truffle’s development has its own water needs:


In the Southern hemisphere, between November and December, irrigation to maintain the soil’s water reserves is only necessary if the winter has been very dry. Too much rain in this period seems harmful to the formation of truffle primordia. Some studies note that a few dry weeks at the end of November are beneficial.


January seems to be the most sensitive month, both in terms of absence and excess of water. If the soil is already damp, a mulch may be sufficient.Water requirements in February do not appear to be decisive in limiting truffle growth. A month of February without rain, and even up to the middle of March does not seem to be harmful. If it rains in January mulching may be sufficient. Conversely, abundant watering (30-50 millimetres) is necessary after a dry January.


From mid- March to mid-April statistics show irrigation to be indispensable if it has not rained. In this period there do not appear to be any problems due to excess water, so irrigation of 25-50 millimetres every 10-20 days would be suitable.


As of mid-April excess water does seems to affect the production of truffles. An excessively dry autumn may also delay the start of the season and result in a mediocre gathering season.


In a recent study of our own, we quantified the mycelium of black truffle with molecular techniques. Measured at 40cm and 100cm out from the tree trunk, we found that at 40cm the quantity of mycelium was 8 mg/g of soil, but at 1 meter is was reduced 1000 times to 0.008 mg/g!


Marcos also has some suggestion for irrigation systems in the early years – see the full post here.

iconTrees balance shoot and root growth with hormones


Hormones103-16


Auxins (plant hormones) produced in the twig’s terminal buds stimulate root growth. Gibberellins (plant hormones) produced in the root tip stimulate canopy growth.

The tree balances root growth versus canopy growth by these hormones.

Soil factors that limit root growth will in turn influence canopy growth.

Storm damage or excessive pruning may reduce auxins, slowing root growth. Following storm damage, trees often put on heavy growth of water sprouts due to a low auxins/high gibberellins ratio (coupled with unobserved, limited root growth). This is followed by a decline in the canopy caused by the reduced root growth.

Author: David Whiting Colorado State University Extension 

 

Feedback from other growers. Colin Carter has installed an MEA system and will be taking part in monitoring data collection. Timeless Hill Estate in WA has an installation as well. Andres Haas (Black Cat Truffles) also shared this comment.

Hi Wayne,
I bought one of the Gdot systems as an easy reckoner after seeing it in action on your truffière. It has been of some use, but marginal. It was quite a dry summer in Vic and after watering for 90 mins it would register 1 or 2 dots most of the time. This would go down to 0 dots over 5  days and I would water a day later. As the summer extended, it was drier still and no dots showed even after watering. It would be great if it was more sensitive still.
Thinking that it wasn’t working, I poured water on the sensor spot – cranked right up very quickly.

FYI – top of sensor block buried at around 10cm, 30cm in from sprinkler radius. 45 l/ph sprinklers, tabs still on. We can’t water much more than that.

Cheers,
Andres

A seal of approval from Marcos Morcillo

Hi Wayne and Fred,

Apologize for the delay, I just wanted to have enough time to see it calmly.
Thanks a lot Wayne for sharing me your link for your data loggers. We have been using them for some researches here but not really on commercial orchards. They give lots of good information on how effective waterings and rains are, how deep they arrive, so to manage “watering windows” more efficiently, depending on how deep you want your truffles to fruit.

The correlation of all these data during different seasons, in different areas with different soil textures and finally yields will show amazing new information.

I remember Wayne you send me a few years ago lots of data of your 2 different blocks, that I will recheck again, where I´ve seen you put a sensor in each one.

I do think this should be the future, not just eye observation a few days after each irrigation…

Marcos Morcillo Serra
Director – Micologia Forestal & Aplicada

micofora.com
http://trufflefarming.wordpress.com/
http://micofora.blogspot.com.es/

Kourik_Oak_taproot

Note the taproot. Only oaks grown from seed/acorn will develop a tap root.

VTSIG June Meeting at Red Hill Truffles

Written by : Posted on June 9, 2016 : No Comments

The Victorian Truffles Special Interest group came from a list of Victorian growers collected at an ATGA conference where growers expressed interest in being part of a group that met regularly, but many didn’t want to join the Association (which at the time might have been less attractive as we had a sliding scale of membership based on your tree numbers).

So we set up a mailing list on the Association server and Andres Haas has managed it since.

It’s a list of 67 names,  some of whom are current ATGA members (for comparison there are 78 members in Victoria at this time, and 60 of those whose member ship has expired. Hint Hint). A current ATGA representative always gives a report on the work of the Association, for this meeting it was President Peter Stahle.

VTSIG Group Red Hill

It was warm inside Red Hill Truffles converted barn for a coffee and cake on arriving

It’s a ‘special’ group for lots of reasons and the get-togethers have a warmth and sharing of information that I know the other States envy, and a lot of it is driven by convenors Sue Daly and Andres and Lynette Haas of Black Cat Truffles. They try and meet in a different truffière location each time and the hosts share their property with a tour of the paddock and facilities. After the meeting and sharing of current problems, ideas and yields or hoped for there’s always a BYO lunch break, and plenty of time to talk with other growers. The meeting minutes are shared with the group by email.

We’ve had a couple of meeting reports in past newsletters and there’s a video of the May 2015 visit to Noel Fitzpatrick’s Jumbunna truffiere in Gippsland here (YouTube) 3 mins approx.

Sunday June 5 the meeting was at Jenny and Mike McAuley’s Red Hill Truffles. When we arrived the hill was surrounded in mist and enough rain to make it dreary. Inside the attractive visitors centre it was warm and the meeting was a lively discussion of the growers expectations for the season, a frank sharing of prices they were getting last year and the issues of dealing with dealers, local and from WA. Nigel Wood outlined the Truffle Melbourne program which this year will be held at the Prahran Market on 18-19 of June and at Red Hill on 16-17 July. The rain stopped, and after lunch we walked through the trees and Thomas marked a few that on careful uncovering consensus said ‘wait a bit’, next week Jenny had orders so was leaving them in the ground till then.
One tip that was shared, was how in Tasmania, Tamar Valley (who harvest a lot) keep their truffles refrigerated in a box of soil from the truffière until they can wash and grade them. This preserves the aroma (and some said they reckoned it was enhanced when they tried it) but as we know, keeping a truffle in a jar always has a concentration of the smell when opened.

Andres shared another tip that works when you’re selling direct at a market for example where the truffles are being examined and uncovered all the time. He grates a small amount of truffle into a jar and when the jaded customer says ‘they don’t have much smell’ whips out the jar to assault their membranes. Works every time he reckons.

VTSIG Group Red Hill

After lunch when the rain had stopped, Jenny (and truffle dog Thomas) lead us through the truffière

VTSIG Group Red Hill

A section of the extensive new plantings, aestivum, borchii and more melansporum
You can join the VTSIG group by emailing Andres.

Fred Harden

Patchy production in your truffière? Here’s some science to help (video)

Written by : Posted on June 8, 2016 : No Comments

The long title of the lecture that this video records is ‘New findings on the life cycle of black truffle and their relevance in the management of plantations’. And if you felt you were missing the research behind the earlier videos on the site, if you listen carefully to  Dr. Xavier Parladé  from the IRTA  you’ll get  the overview of the current science that Micofora’s Marcos Morcillo calls ‘disruptive’. It covers DNA, mating types, mycelium testing as an indicator of truffle growth, what research is next,  and a short summary of how to apply the current research in practice.

 

Dr. Parladé has shared this presentation with the Association members and the following is one of the slides from his summary. Of the management practices suggested to recover infertile patches in the truffière, only the first two are viable, although there have been some successful Italian experiments in creating trees with one mating type. Adding truffle back to the paddock comes with that proviso ‘Not low quality sporocarps*!’
Returning less than perfect truffle spores back to the soil will only perpetuate the problems of  large, misshapen, low quality truffle.    Slides Torre Marimon December 2015.pdf

*That’s the term for the fruiting body, the truffle.

Fred Harden

The Spanish truffle buyers continued – Conservas Coll (video)

Written by : Posted on June 2, 2016 : No Comments

Another video (12 mins) from the Barcelona Truffle Tour, about another buyer we visited , Conservas Coll from just outside Barcelona.

As we arrived there was a local truffle hunter selling his plastic shopping bag of wild truffle, 200 grams with dirt on, and he was paid EUR 300. This lead nicely into a discussion of grading the various varieties, often melanosporum, aestivum and brumale (there’s a lot of brumale) and the prices they get. Marcos says that the year on year average price is EUR 420, that’s $650 a kilo. The charts in the recent  Laumont post show that the price can rise to EUR 650 ($1000 AUD) with seasonal demand. We then walked to a nearby wild area where truffles had been found up to two years ago but no longer (in spite of expanding brûlés).  SpainTruffleTour-8921

 
Fred Harden

Selling truffles in Europe (and what it means for us)

Written by : Posted on May 27, 2016 : No Comments

This is another of the videos recorded on the Barcelona Truffle Tour run by Micologia Forestal & Aplicada in Barcelona.

Upfront I apologise for the shaky camera bits and extended graphics but they’re there because the audio was important. It’s the hassles of being a one-man camera crew. You’d get as much from this as a transcript after you’ve seen the video (and I may create just that). It runs for 23 mins  and the last few minutes from about 15.5 mins in, are very applicable to Australia and the canning comments  at 19.45 mins about food safety health risks.

Below is an off the screen image of the spreadsheet Jordi Serentill shared, that shows how they have assessed each of these growers (or wild hunters) truffles and what they paid. (season 2014).

Translating – ‘Pago’ is Payout (in Euros). ‘Destrio’ means truffles that have not enough quality for pieces or peelings. Marcos translated it as a Catalan word that means “what’s left after selecting everything”. The red circle highlight on Supplier 4’s delivery shows the percentage of dirt included, and the other circle is a prime grower with 62% of the truffle in the premium range of 15 grams plus. The columns to the right of Sencera +15 are the Euro amounts that were paid to that supplier for the different quality.

The growers/hunter get a copy of their spreadsheet and payment with their following week collection.

SpainTruffleTour-8878

 

And in this slide are their selling prices week by week per kg. – the Laumont price to the harvester or growers paid at origin.  Here the comma in the price is a decimal point equivalent.

As Jordi explains in the video, at the beginning of the season the truffle is poor but at Christmas time, no-one cares so they buy it. After Christmas the price drops again. Then in late January and early February the truffle is good and fresh sales start as well as purchases from the processors who want to buy good truffle for canning, juicing and prepared products – such as adding to foie gras, cheeses, sausage etc.

Jordi says in the video, no-one knows when that second peak will be, other than that there will be one.

Without the complication of canning or processing in Australia (yet) and the wide swings in demand and therefore price, our relatively stable price across the season looks like nirvana. Imagine a jump from being paid $1,000+ a kilo to $700 in a week and back again four weeks later.

That’s a true supply and demand system, are we ready for it?

2Laumont-Weeklyprice14-15

Cold enough for you?

Written by : Posted on May 23, 2016 : No Comments

I’ve been working on Climate mapping tools for the RIRDC/ATGA WIKI project and thought that I’d share with you this seasonal observation. I’ve used Queanbeyan as the data point for this as we’ve also been watching the temperature probe in the test we’re running for moisture levels at nearby Sutton. All the regions growers who are involved in the Canberra Truffle Festival are being pestered for truffle sales and all they can say is  ‘Not yet, we’re waiting for some good frosts’. Yes there’s signs of truffles but the strongest aroma and blacker gleba (flesh) only starts after at least a week of cold in their region. It really is like someone has thrown a switch.

As I write this on the 23 May, there has been one ( one and a half was the report from the paddock)frost recorded. The temperature trend is definitely downwards  but usually in May they have around five days of frost. We still have a week left to go, but I’m sure the growers are anxious to get that cold snap. Sutton_temperature graph23May

Well, there was frost on the ground but what we look for is the 20cm deep probe (lime green on this graph) as that’s were the truffles should be hiding if the soil isn’t too compacted.

Members can login and watch that ongoing monitoring, but I’ll add another post or two about the results.

I encourage you to visit the CSIRO Climate Change site and their Threshold Calculator ( before it’s unfunded?) You’ll need to swear you’re of sane mind and don’t drink much to get in, and then look for your region, or nearest town. Have a play with the parameters, choose your month.

It looks like this below. If you use their Climate Change modelling ( ACCESS is a good start) you’ll see a change in the number of days of cold drop. Only by one or two days in the midwinter months, but it’s the leadup to ripeness that seems most variable.

QueanbeyanThresholdsHistoricalMay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent the Bureau statistics for the first 23 days of May 2016 for Manjimup say –
Mean temperature is 9.3 , Lowest 5.3,  Highest 15.5 °C . According to the charts there was no zero °C days last year.

While the truffle harvest was down in W.A. last year it is always a surprise to those east coast growers that there can still be good truffle without frosts.

Comments and theories welcome.

Fred Harden