Growing truffles isn’t just about keeping the truffle-fungi happy, it’s also about making sure the host tree is in good condition. The truffle relies on the living host tree for its own survival and, if we want to produce truffles, this needs to be a healthy partnership.
As we’re heading towards the end of May, our trees have broken out of dormancy and the tree growing season really starts to get underway. Leaves are an important indicator for tree health and there are several things to look for. Discoloration of the leaves can be an indication of nutritional problems and the pattern of this discoloration is paramount in identifying the issue.
|Examples of truffle-inoculated tree saplings.|
Nutritional problems should be corrected as soon as they become apparent. Fortunately, this is often a cheap and easy fix, but if such issues aren’t addressed, it can lead to stunting of the tree’s growth, as well as a reduced yield and a much delayed harvest. In the worst case scenario, the trees can slowly wither away.
The fresh leaf growth may also attract unwelcome attention. Young and tender new leaves are an ideal food source for a range of invertebrates. Although many species are fine to have within the orchard (and some soil species can be very beneficial), others may create problems and some can defoliate trees so quickly that it may seem like the the issue appeared overnight. In such extreme cases, treatment is often needed that focuses on the particular issue, but doesn’t damage the truffle fungus. The group of fungi that truffles belong to (mycorrhiza) have been shown to be sensitive to chemicals in many products that are routinely used in agriculture and horticultural practice, so if anything is to be used, it’s import to check with us at American Truffle Company on their safety first.
The good news is that the majority of trees won’t develop issues and this season should be enjoyed as you witness the leaves unfolding—gathering rays from the sun and sending those all-important sugars down to the roots to feed those truffles that we all know and love.
Enjoy, and please feel free to contact us with any questions!
Dr. Paul Thomas
American Truffle Company