Members Category

How hot?

Written by : Posted on July 12, 2017 : No Comments

I found this interactive temperature map and it prompted a post to direct ATGA members to the GrowWIKI. (Prompt, prompt)

This only uses a selection of Capital Cities but it only takes a small bit of shifting to suggest that Manjimup 34°.24 is almost on the same latitude as Adelaide 34° 92. Concrete and traffic laden cities are different of course to nice green countryside. (Read the background in the box that pops up “What about…” to see the maps modelling). But given another 80 years most of our children will be living in major cities if the trends continue, so this may be just an idea of what your kids summer will be like while they’re waiting for the weekend to get back to that truffle paddock their parents left them.

It’s the winter temperature ranges we’re more sensitive to for truffle growing, we need cold hours to force the ripening and the WIKI has that data.

Below is our ‘ideal’ growing areas overlay-ed in green on an average winter temperature map from the Bureau of Meteorology.

As always, higher altitude changes suitability and coastal areas are often tempered by the sea mass (which means they are subject to oceans warming).

 

To join this discussion, and for more data, see the GrowWIKI.   Choose Site Selection and Average Temperature maps. 

FH.

2017 ATGA Members Pests and Diseases Roadshow

Written by : Posted on June 14, 2017 : Comments Off on 2017 ATGA Members Pests and Diseases Roadshow

Truffle Pest & Disease project – Research extension – Winter 2017

Aim

To update Australian truffle producers on progress and future plans within the RIRDC project “Pests and diseases of truffles and their host trees in Australia”.

The road show
Team members of the Pests and Diseases Project will visit regional centres of truffle growing districts across Australia (see proposed itinerary below).
At the talks, there will be hands-on pest collections to demonstrate the array of pests, beneficial and benign agents found in Australian truffle orchards. At these ATGA Member only meetings, you are invited to bring to the samples of any pests/diseases they want to discuss and/or identified (except at Dandenongs and Sutton meetings which will be held on truffières).
Growers will have the opportunity for direct interaction with project team members.
Because the meetings are at the same time of year as truffle harvest and sales, the sessions are proposed to start at 2.00 p.m. and go no longer than 2 hours.
As well as attending these meetings, Stewart Learmonth from WA will be requesting visits to truffle orchards during harvest to further build knowledge of pests.
Proposed itinerary

*Location Date People
AD SL CL AM AS
Manjimup 23 & 25June X X X
Sutton 4 July X X X
Bathurst 6 July X X X X
Dandenongs 11 July X X X
Launceston/Deloraine 13 July X X

*Location:  Precise details on the venues will be advised soon.
#People: AD = Alan Davey; SL =Stewart Learmonth; CL = Celeste Linde; AM = Anne Mitchell; AS = Ainsley Seago.

Afternoon Tea
Please bring a thermos to share

RSVP
Please note, except for the Manjimup meetings, the number of attendees at each meeting will be limited to 20 ATGA Members.

Please be sure to make a reservation:
WESTERN AUSTRALIA   COMPLETED
Bookings for the 3-5 pm 23 June seminar at the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA (DAFWA) offices in Manjimup are through Anne Mitchell, via email anne.mitchell@agric.wa.gov.au. This event is supported by DAFWA, Truffle Producers WA (TPWA), and Manjimup Underground.

Some of the experts will also be part of  the Truffle Growers Forum at the Truffle Kerfuffle 8-11.30am Sunday 25 June. Bookings are via the Truffle Kerfuffle website. This event is supported by DAFWA, the Truffle Kerfuffle Inc., TPWA, and Manjimup Underground.

DAFWA Offices
28527 Southwest Hwy
Manjimup (6kms south of town)
Stewart Learmonth 9777 0000

SOUTHERN NEW SOUTH WALES
Wayne Haslam (Sutton)
Blue Frog Truffle Farm
63 Goolabri Dr, Sutton NSW 2620
RSVP Alan Davey 0407 404 447 or at alan-davey@grapevine.net.au
No pest samples please

NORTHERN NEW SOUTH WALES:
Richard Austen (Bathurst)             0419 868 666
Bathurst Library Meeting Room
70-78 Keppel St, Bathurst. Ph (02) 6333 6281.
RSVP Richard Austen at rausten@hartleycorporate.com.au

VICTORIA:
Colin Carter (Dandenongs)           (03) 5968 1092; 0409 717 401
Please ring Colin for address details.
RSVP Colin Carter  colin@trufficulture.com.au
No pest samples please

TASMANIA:
Marcus Jessup (Launceston/Deloraine) 0417 112 655
Bush Inn Hotel Restaurant
7 Bass Highway, Deloraine. Ph (03) 6362 2365.
RSVP Marcus Jessup marcus@tamarvalleytruffles.com.au

 

June Newsletter online

Written by : Posted on June 11, 2017 : 1 Comment

And it’s linked on the Members Newsletters page. I’ve added a few (?) items that we haven’t had available.

This is a good resource for new members to see what activities the ATGA are involved in.

 

Members of the VTSIG (Victorian Trufflegrowers Special Interest Group) at Daylesford in May 2017

Plant Health Australia Photo Competition

Attention Members! In an effort to promote the benefits of a strong plant biosecurity system, Plant Health Australia is running the Bountiful Harvest photo competition, with two vouchers for the RM Williams store as prizes:  $300 to the winner and $150 to the runner up. It’s open to all Australian residents aged 18 or over, and we’re seeking digital images of some aspect of plant production – the crops that produce food and fibre – anywhere in Australia.  Entries close 10 March 2017. 

You can submit a photo (see terms and conditions here) to be in the running to win.

More information at  http://www.planthealthaustralia.com.au/bountiful-harvest-photo-competition/

Good Luck!

Conference highlights – a captain’s pick

Written by : Posted on September 23, 2016 : 1 Comment

peter_hallwide_small

atga0390_smallIn his summary in the Sunday afternoon session our ATGA President Peter Stahle reviewed what he had chosen as the highlights from the presentations on the weeekend. These were what he considered are going to become significant industry issues requiring forward planning, collaboration and especially research. There will be a full video report of Peter’s talk with all the speaker presentations in our Members area, but this will give you a good overview of what we covered in Manjimup.

If you were there you may have some further comments we’d love to hear, just add them below. If you couldn’t attend we’d still like to get your feedback (although you might like to wait for the full versions.

 


 

gavin_smallGavin Booth – A dose of reality

To ‘future-proof’ the industry, Australian truffle growers need to be self-sufficient organizationally and financially. There are challenges on both these counts. This season, Australia-wide, without engaging economic multipliers, at the farm gate we are an $8m industry (≈12.5 tonne harvest weight, ≈8.75 tonne saleable product, average farm gate price 75¢ – $1.00 /gm.). This doesn’t allow much room for investment in research and development in production methodology or marketing. To really make a difference, we have to find ways of leveraging our limited funds.

 

vittorio_smallVittorio Giordano – International Trade

Urbani Truffles is the largest purveyor of fresh truffles and truffle products in the world, and since 1852 this family-run company has developed markets and exports to 68 countries. The company has invested heavily in marketing truffles globally, in particular in the US where only 5 years ago 50% of Americans thought truffles were chocolates. The company recognizes the ongoing need for the industry to globally promote truffles and educate consumers, and the Australian industry has an important collaborative role to play in this. The Australian industry needs to be aware of how its marketing and pricing in overseas markets has the potential to effectively commodify this elite and special product. Now as a major producer, the Australian industry needs to be aware of the global context and impact of its sales. Australia is not a competitor to other truffle producing countries and needs to be aware of shared interest in promoting the sale and consumption of truffles globally.

 

celeste_smallCeleste Linde – Update on truffle science

Celeste gave an overview of changes and updates in the Australian truffle industry, from the perspective of a professional mycologist passionately engaged in the development of the Australian industry and providing scientific and technical advice. Her observations include:
Tuber maculatum is becoming more common in truffières in both Australia and New Zealand where it has been known as an ectomycorrhizal associate of several species of European trees since the 1960s. More recently it has been most likely spread as a contaminant of mycorrhized tree sales. All tree samples sent to the Linde Laboratory are assessed for T. maculatum and other common undesirable fungal species.
Tuber brumale is now recognized as two biotypes emanating from Eastern and Western Europe. T. brumale introduced deliberately and accidentally into Australia and New Zealand is of the Eastern European biotype.
Celeste is collaborating with French mycologists to further the understanding of maternal and paternal genotypes of Tuber melanosporum and their impact on truffle production. T. melanosporum exhibits heterothallism whereby female elements (ascogonia) become truffles and male elements (conidia) produce sexual spores of hyphae.
Understanding the sex life of truffles is fundamental to understanding truffle production and it is further complicated by some truffle “plants” being hermaphroditic (♂ & ♀), some dioecious (either ♂ or ♀), and some trioecious (♂ & ♀, and ♂ or ♀).

dunbar_small

Stuart Dunbar – The Dunbar truffle

Stuart proudly presented the background story and images of the world’s largest T. melanosporum harvested from his Gembrook property. The truffle, now reverently referred to as “The Dunbar”, will henceforth lend its name as a descriptor of extraordinarily large truffles. (the joke was the new grading standards now include ‘Dunbar’ between Premium and Extra class).

johnharvey_panel_smallVictoria Taylor, John Harvey and Ingrid Smith – Realities and future proofing the industry

Discussions ranged around the various state and federal government grant schemes that are available to agricultural commodities, such as truffles, to support R&D. The truffle industry has been supported by Rural industries Research and Development Corporation, since its inception in the 1990s. The industry is on notice though, that RIRDC is looking to wind up its generous support by 2019 when the 5-year truffle industry R&D strategic plan will sunset. In the meantime there are state government initiatives, such as WA’s Agriculture Produce Commission, which can raise funds for the industry through a “Fee for Service” mechanism and administered by a Producer Committee. Ultimately, the truffle industry will need to raise a levy from producers to fund R&D. This levy could be administered by RIRDC, which would obviate the need for the creation of a “Truffle Industry Research and Development Corporation”. The levy will need to operate under 11 principles, which include: demonstrated need, market failure, majority industry support and public good. The industry is encouraged to start planning for a levy now, since even with the best intent a levy can take several years to put in place.

 

rohanprince_smallRohan Prince – Latest irrigation studies

Rohan is from the Department of Agriculture WA and presented a comprehensive overview of the role of irrigation in managing a truffiere. He also elaborated on the various soil moisture variables and the equipment that can be used to monitor them. As yet a causal relationship between soil moisture and truffle production has not been established. This is a topic worthy of industry investment in the future.

 

Jan de Jager – Using fertilizers

Jan highlighted the complexity and importance of soil ecology in achieving ideal growing conditions for any crop, including truffles and their host trees. To maximize production of truffles there are many soil variables that need to be taken into account, many of which can be simply adjusted/improved through the addition of mineral supplements. Jan threw down the gauntlet to the industry to back research into the use of organic fertilizers to improve soil conditions.

annemitchell_presentingStuart Learmonth and Anne Mitchell – Pest and Diseases

Stuart provided an update on the Pests and Diseases project that is being conducted nationally. The project is essentially being run in 3 parts: a survey of growers, “My Pest Guide” reporting and technical information transfer. The Research Team led by Stuart and Anne is consolidating and interpreting information gained directly from growers. A comprehensive update on the research can be found at the ATGA website.

 

 

wilkinson_smallGeorge Wilkinson – New Zealand’s 2016 season

George presented an update on the 2016 season in New Zealand where the aggregate harvest (all species) is estimated to be 0.5 tonne. T. brumale production exceeds T. melanosporum. The New Zealand industry is keen to emulate the Australian promotion of truffles through festivals held in the major cities.

 

 

fred_small2Fred Harden – GROWwiki

Fred, the ATGA Webmaster, is developing a comprehensive growers’ guide for T. melanosporum. Fred demonstrated the interactive graphics and information access that will be a feature of the website, which will be based on a Wiki platform to facilitate regular updates. Components of the guide are now live and can be accessed through the ATGA website. Sign up to add material, comment and help build a definitive guide. The website is available via the Members Area menu  or direct at grow.trufflegrowers.com.au

 

Reports on the other speakers, the Workshops and Field trips will all be online soon with the full conference report.

RIRDC Truffle Pest & Disease Newsletter #2

Written by : Posted on September 7, 2016 : 1 Comment
The latest of Truffle Pest and Disease from RIRDC which may be a good read before the conference. It is their second e-Newsletter on the truffle pest & disease project.
Please follow link here for a complete read:

 

 

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