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.
*That’s the term for the fruiting body, the truffle.
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).
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
This is the first of the lectures (it preceded the videos in the previous two posts) presented as part of the 2016 Barcelona Truffle Tour. Here Marcos presents successful examples of truffle growing in Catalonia and Spain, and refers to the research that is taking place at the Catalan government Research Institute of Agronomic Technology – IRTA . The video runs for just over an hour and is recommended viewing for all growers. There is some ‘translation’ required for seasons in our hemisphere, and the fact that there is natural limestone soil in Spain. The huge plantations that were started with EU funding are also very different to many of our growers here so there are some differences in scale when considering costs.
You’ll need to watch in as high quality as your connection will allow to see the details on the graphics.
The importance of the slide below will become painfully clear as you listen to the explanation of why your trees may have a good brulè and never grow truffles (unless you do something about it soon).
Maybe you’ve worked out where you will sell all your truffles (or when you get them) in Australia. Have you thought what the demand will be in, say 2020? Most of our growers realise that our local market is not going to be big enough and are looking for overseas sales to make their truffières viable. Marcos Morcillo and his company Micologia Forestal and Applicada have, and he presented his latest assessment of the future at the Barcelona Truffle Tour in January we attended this year. Here is another ‘back of the room’ video notes from the lectures (see his ‘Paradigm shifts in truffle growing’ lecture video here). The Australians contributed actively to this discussion.
This chart is from “Truffle Farming Today, a Comprehensive World Guide” Marcos Morcillo, Monica Sanchez and Xavier Vilanova. Marcos talks about it in the video above.
My wife Jan and I (as Thinktag Creative), were part of a group of Australian growers who attended Marcos Morcillo’s Barcelona Truffle Tour in late January this year. You can read about it here. The first days of the tour consisted of half day lectures and I attempted to record these from the back of the room. Marcos has generously agreed to share these with Australian growers and I’ll add them to the website as I finish them. They’re all about 50 mins long, and have shaky camera bits, heads in frame and audio level differences. If you can ignore the couple of Bulgarian growers in the foreground who were rudely disinterested, you should find Marcos’ summary here of what changes we will need to consider based on their research, upsetting. Disruptive is the approved word.
The other lectures explain many of the points further but the research that shows the accepted model of tree and truffle in symbiosis is closer to that of the truffle being parasitic, that there’s a need for ensuring two mating types are in each brulé for the ongoing life of your orchard, that you should change how you do your weed management, that you can lime less. They are are just some of those disruptions. And this video includes an assessment of the future world truffle market that will change your financial modelling (and plans for small crop viability).
Get a cup of tea or coffee, sit back and pay attention. I get a Hitchcock walk on moment as I turn off the light at the start of the video.
I’ve been playing with this Adobe online presentation format for a while and decided to use it for my notes from the trip that Jan and I did to Marcos Morcillo’s truffle tour in late January. I have a lot of video I’m editing but this includes a couple of short pieces of that video as a test. Member comments are welcome in the standard blog format below.
It’s best watched full screen, (just click on it, double click to get back to the two pages, use Esc key to close full screen window.) and you can also download a printable PDF copy (minus the video’s) from the menu at the bottom.
If you’re on an iPad, or having troubles etc, this link has a version that may work better.
Through the careful work of authors ATGA member Anne Mitchell and Alison Mathews we now have a great introduction to growing black truffles, not just in WA but with information applicable to the eastern States. I encourage you to visit the site.
The first newsletter of the project Pests and diseases of truffles and their host trees in Australia, is online. The project is running from 29 May 2015 to 10 Jan 2019. Their Newsletter is a biannual update of project activities and will be produced in December and June each year of the project. Here’s a link to December 2015.
The Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia is the lead agency in conducting this project and involves a team based in WA and eastern Australia.
You are able to send pest and disease enquiries and observations to the project team via the MyPestGuide-Reporter app. For more information on the app please refer to the article in the December 2015 newsletter, and the DAFWA website. You can also create pest and disease reports online through the DAFWA website rather than download the app. Please note that there are several MyPestGuide apps, for truffles you will need to download the Reporter app and once in the app select ‘truffle survey’ from the drop down menu each time you send a report.
- May 2018 newsletter
- A time for reflection
- How hot?
- 2017 ATGA Members Pests and Diseases Roadshow
- June Newsletter online
- NSW ATGA Members Grading workshop
- Great Southern Truffles Services for 2017
- Plant Health Australia Photo Competition
- Shock for importer of Tuber magnatum into Western Australia.
- Conference highlights – a captain’s pick