Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly do you sell?
We provide ultra-high quality seedlings inoculated with either the black winter truffle (Tuber melanosporum) or the black summer truffle (Tuber aestivum/uncinatum), as well as complete know-how and technology for you to succeed in truffle cultivation, all in a partnership arrangement. We do not assume you have any prior expertise in either truffles or farming.
What are truffles?
Truffles are a kind of 'underground mushroom' that grow on the roots of certain tree species. They are highly prized by top chefs and connoisseurs around the world for their exquisite flavor and command exceedingly high prices.
Why cultivate truffles?
The simplest reason is perhaps they offer incredible returns economically. Truffles are one of the most expensive fungi on the face of the planet. Wholesale prices for the black winter truffle (Tuber melanosporum) can exceed $1,000 per lb. Grown even on a moderate scale, truffle orchards produce significant revenue year after year for many decades, yet with low overhead and maintenance costs (unlike a vineyard, for example).
How can truffles be cultivated?
Like all mycorrhizal species the truffle grows in symbiosis with the roots of certain trees. This means the trees and truffles live in a mutually beneficial relationship in which one needs the other. The black truffle grows most successfully with the roots of oak and hazel trees. Our scientific technique enables inoculated trees to be planted and truffles harvested. The truffle grows underground and the truffle orchard looks like a tree farm.
Have other people grown truffles?
Yes. However, due to the current (and out-dated) technology only a small percentage of truffle farms are really successful. Some truffle plantations have failed due to poor technology and poor attention to detail. The technique we have developed is a much more thorough and reliable scientific method.
Why is ATC's technique so much better?
Our technique minimizes or eliminates the 'luck-of-the-draw' effect. Before plantation we ensure a 100% inoculation rate without contamination. This technique is supported by constant biological monitoring and would lead to a truffle harvest in a shorter time frame, in greater numbers and with increased reliability. Reasonable orchards are reported to produce 35-80 lb/Acre per year. However, yields for the summer truffle are far higher and some orchards of either species have been reported to produce very large yields indeed. Although there is variation in the performance of individual trees, our unique partnership structure means we care as much about maximizing your yield as you do, and that you can be assured we will proactively and determinedly pursue the highest yields possible with you. In short, we use our considerable scientific data and technique to help you maximize yield. We are confident of our techniques, so much so that we don’t ask to get paid for our ongoing assistance until you produce truffles.
Are there different types of truffles?
Yes. The two species we concentrate on are the black winter truffle (Tuber melanosporum) and the summer truffle (Tuber aestivum/uncinatum). This FAQ is primarily focused on the winter truffle.
What is the Summer truffle?
The summer truffle (Tuber aestivum/uncinatum) is also known as the Burgundy truffle, and is very similar to the winter truffle although milder in flavor. For this reason wholesale prices are much lower and are generally $400-$600/lb. But since summer truffle yield is higher per acre than winter truffle, as an investment the annual revenue per acre between summer truffle and Perigord truffle is very similar. The summer truffle is much more suited for cooler climates and therefore for climates that have harsher winters, the summer truffle is the favored species to plant.
Can I harvest hazelnuts if I use hazelnut trees as hosts for the truffle?
There are a number of reasons you should not plan on profitably harvesting hazelnuts from hazelnut truffle trees:
- 1. Because the soil conditions that are optimized for truffle production are very different from commercial hazelnut-producing farms, whatever hazelnuts that are produced on truffle trees will unlikely be of high culinary quality.
- 2. Such truffle-optimized soil conditions include loose, airy soil for the truffles, while typical hazelnut harvest is mechanized using heavy equipment that must be driven over hard, compacted soil.
- 3. The same heavy equipment will damage the delicate truffles that begin to form in the summer, which is hazelnut harvest season.
In any event, the commercial value of truffles that will be produced far, far outstrips any revenue you can generate from hazelnuts. Therefore it makes sense to focus the trees on producing truffles and nothing else.
Can I grow other crops between rows of truffle trees?
Yes, with some caution. There are two factors to consider:
- 1. You should plant crops that do not harbor mycorrhizal species, as they will eventually spread to the truffle trees and compete with truffle production. We can advise you which crops can be safely planted.
- 2. Since the soil condition is optimized for truffle production, you shouldn’t plant crops that will need significantly different soil conditions or moisture requirements from the truffles. Again, we can advise you which crops are suitable and can be safely planted.
Can I grow truffles on my land?
The best land for truffle growing should be free from established trees and have a high pH value. However, even soils with quite low pH levels can be used as long as adequate lime is applied, and we have extensive experience with fields with a starting pH, sometimes as low as 4.5. We can advise you on how to improve and optimize your soil to successfully grow truffles.
FREE Truffle Cultivation/Business Seminars
Tuesday, June 25, 8:30-10:30am
Napa County Farm Bureau: 811 Jefferson Street, Napa, CA 94559
Truffle orchards are highly profitable - as much as 7-12 times more per acre than vineyards – and are an excellent and viable way to diversify land usage. The demand for black truffles, the most sought after truffles in the culinary world, far exceeds supply. Current black truffle production is almost exclusively European - predominately France, followed by Spain and Italy, with small amounts in Slovenia, Croatia and Australia. But now black truffles can be cultivated in select areas around the world; and Northern California, especially Napa and Sonoma, offer particularly suitable climates/soil.
Get an overview of the cultivation science and business of black truffles with cultivation expert and American Truffle Company Managing Director Robert Chang.
To reserve, please contact Kathleen: email@example.com, 707-225-2354.
Stay tuned for future seminars in Napa and Sonoma.
To sign up for our newsletters, please send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to download an overview.
Save the Date!
January 17-20, 2014
Napa, California, USA
For more information, please visit www.napatrufflefestival.com
In the Press
- 60 Minutes - Truffles: The Most Expensive Food in the World
- The economics of truffle cultivation (Weekly Calistogan/St Helena Star) - Each year, more vintners are adding truffle orchards to their vineyard properties...
- Truffles are the most profitable legal crop in the world... (Napa County Farm Bureau: Grower Advocate) - Successful truffle yield depends on cultivation techniques...