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Truffles
   

Truffles are underground ectomycorrhizal fungi that have a symbiotic relationship with the roots of trees. Since antiquity, they have been highly prized for their unique flavour and texture. Northern European truffles are most commonly associated with oak and hazel but can also be found in growing underneath birch, lime, hornbeam and beech. They require warm, well-drained alkaline soil. For truffles to succeed the soil pH must be between 7.3 and 8.2: in an Irish context this generally means free-draining soils on top of limestone. Without major modification, all other soils are likely to be unsuitable.

Intended sites should be free of existing trees* as these may have symbiotic relationships with competing ectomycorrhizal fungi. Long-established meadow-land with diverse flora and rich in humus would be the ideal choice.

For best results plant a minimum of 20 trees. Numbers smaller than this may fail to produce the required conditions of shade. The chances of successfully establishing a truffière with a single impregnated tree are extremely low (probably worse odds than pulling four consecutive aces from a well-shuffled pack of cards!). Even with five trees, it's a long shot. But with twenty trees or more, and a suitable site free from competing fungi, the odds begin to become quite good. Careful introduction of trees that do not support competing fungi (see list below) may increase the likelihood of modest numbers of truffle trees being successful, by providing additional shade.

Tuber aestivum  (syn  Tuber uncinatum) Autumn or Burgundy Truffle                                       
Closely related to the summer truffle (generally regarded as a different form of the same species) but with a darker flesh and much stronger flavour.
Strongly associated with France but are considered native to Ireland. More common in the past but with the demise of native woodland are now extremely rare. Have also been found in the wild as far north as Scotland and Sweden. Harvest October till December, occasionally through to February or March. Grows best in shady conditions, ideal tree density approx 1 tree per 8 -15m². Once the fungi become established, it takes 5-8 years for the first truffles to be produced.

Trees available March 2018 (order now)

Truffle-impregnated trees (minimum quantity 10 trees)
  Unit Price (euro)
10-24 trees
25-49 trees
50+ trees
Corylus avellana (Common Hazel)
27.50
23.50
19.50
Carpinus betulus (Hornbeam)
27.50
23.50
19.50
Quercus pubescens (Pubescent Oak)
27.50
23.50
19.50

Trees are supplied with detailed cultivation instructions.

Delivery: 10 trees €17.50; 11-19 trees €20; 21-29 trees €25; 30-49 trees €30; 50-99 trees €50; 100+ trees €60

* Trees/plants that do not harbour competing fungi include most fruit trees, sorbus spp, sycamore, horse chestnut, cornus spp, holly, ash, and gorse. These species are safe to have in, or adjacent to the truffière.

Trees that form ectomycorrhizas which may compete with truffle fungi include most other broadleaved species and most conifers. These species should be avoided. A full list of non-compatible species can be sent upon request.

Cultural information

The impregnated trees are best planted late February to early April when the soil is begining to warm and dry out after the typical winter saturation. Planting should not take place during very wet or very cold weather. Trees should be protected from rabbits and hares. Spirals can be used but a fence around each tree is much better. If the trees have to be protected from livestock as well, the fencing must be robust.

Where large numbers of trees are planted, trees should be planted in rows, with approx 2-3m between trees within the row and 4-5m between rows. This arrangement makes maintenance easier.

It is best to turn and break up an area approx 75 -100cm in diameter for each tree prior to planting. This makes subsequent weed control much easier. Trees should be planted on slight mounds and watered immediately after planting. Use rainwater not tap water. The area around the tree should be kept well weeded for the first year. After that, grass can be allowed to become partly established. However, the grass cover should be regularly broken up with a hand implement such as a mattock. The penetration depth close to the tree need not be more than 5cm, increasing to 8-12cm further out. The working with the mattock helps maintain the aerated soil conditions favoured by truffles.