We Are Harvesting Lots of Black Perigord Truffles at NCSU!
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1/31/2020 – Skepticism was high in 2010 when we planted our first filbert orchard with young trees inoculated with the Black Perigord truffle. There had been many failed truffle orchards at that time and many people thought it just wouldn’t work. But with the generous donation of inoculated trees from Garland Truffles, a promise to use the best current good agricultural practices, and a desire to understand the science of growing truffles, my research staff and I set out on our truffle growing adventure.
We carefully tended these trees for ten years. Every year, with the help of the Mountain Research Station staff, we irrigate, lime, prune, mow, weed, scout, and manage diseases and insects. We also conduct experiments on how to grow truffles and identifying the fungi in the orchard. And seven years after planting, in 2017, we harvested our first truffle! (it does take patience!)
We harvested a few truffles in the 2017-2018 season (these truffles ripen in the winter) and a few more in the 2018-2019 season. And this year, in the 2019-2020 season, we have harvested 40 truffles so far! And this is a very small test orchard; less than two-tenths of an acre.
The truffles looked good and smelled wonderful, but how did they taste? That’s important information to have! So, after the January 5, 2020 truffle hunt, Asheville chef, Susi Gott Seguret, arranged for a special truffle feast to be prepared so chefs, a food writer, a highly experienced truffle grower and connoisseur, our NC State University research assistant, Leonora Stefanile, Lois Martin, and a few others could test out the quality and flavor of these North Carolina grown truffles.
The final decision was that they were delicious; just as good as fresh European grown Black Perigord truffles and much better than imported Black Perigord truffles because they were super fresh.
Do you want to learn more? There are several events coming up that you might want to attend. The Asheville Truffle Experience will take place on February 7–9, 2020, in Asheville, NC and will include truffle tastings, truffle seminar on growing and using truffles, a truffle dinner, and a truffle hunt at the NC State University truffle orchard. This event is appropriate for anyone who enjoys eating good food and is curious about truffles.
If you are a truffle grower already or might want to become one, I strongly recommend that you attend the North American Truffle Growers Association conference on February 21–23, 2020, in Charlotte, NC. Here you will learn from truffle experts from around the world, we will update you on our NC State University truffle research, you will get to mingle with lots of other truffle growers, and you will enjoy a great truffle dinner.
If you want to cook with truffles, watch for the release of Susi’s new cookbook.
And, if you are interested in attending one of our field days, where you can visit the NC State University truffle orchard, or just staying up to date on our activities, subscribe to our news updates (and check “new crops and organics news”).