FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
American Truffle Company (ATC) provides ultra-high quality seedlings (young trees developed from seeds) 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.
Truffles (aka black diamonds) 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 (60 Minutes named them: The Most Expensive Food in the World).
There are two types of black truffles that can be cultivated: the Burgundy (Tuber aestivum/uncinatum) and Périgord (Tuber melanosporum) truffles, and each has different climate requirements. The Burgundy truffle is less demanding and can thrive in nearly all climates, but the Périgord truffle requires a more moderate climate. We have a useful interactive map that shows you which parts of the country have climates suitable for the Périgord truffle. You can also find detailed information on climate, temperature and rainfall requirements for the Périgord truffle in the Fundamentals section of the website.
The truffle grows underground and the truffle orchard looks like a tree farm. 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.
Yes. However, due to the current (and out-dated) technology only a small percentage of truffle farms are really successful. Some truffle orchards 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.
Our technique minimizes, or eliminates the ‘luck-of-the-draw’ effect. Before planting, we ensure a 100% inoculation rate without contamination. This technique is supported by constant biological monitoring, and leads to a truffle harvest in a shorter time frame, in greater numbers with increased reliability. Reasonable orchards are reported to produce 35-80 pounds/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. 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 and start selling truffles.
Yes. The two species we concentrate on are the black winter truffle (Tuber melanosporum) and the black summer truffle (Tuber aestivum/uncinatum). This FAQ is primarily focused on the winter truffle.
The summer truffle (Tuber aestivum/uncinatum) is also known as the Burgundy truffle, and is very similar to the winter Périgord truffle, although milder in flavor. For this reason retail prices are lower – 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 the Burgundy truffle and the Périgord truffle is very similar. The summer truffle is much more suited for cooler climates because harvest is generally finished by December, before the onset of harsh winter conditions. Therefore, in climates that have harsher winters, the summer truffle is the favored species to plant.
There are a number of reasons you should not plan on profitably harvesting hazelnuts from hazelnut truffle trees:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 outstrips any revenue you can generate from hazelnuts. Therefore, it makes sense to focus the trees on producing truffles and nothing else.
Yes, with some caution. There are two factors to consider:
- 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 on which crops can be safely planted.
- 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.
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. 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.