Truffles are notoriously hard to grow. And until recently, it was thought to be quite impossible to cultivate them outside of their native habitat. However, with the right trees, location and a bit of luck, it is quite possible to grow truffles in the United States. While these mushrooms are notoriously expensive, chances are you will not get rich from your endeavor. Starting costs are high and, in certain areas, success rates are lower than 50 percent.
Choose a planting site. Truffles must be grown in a south-facing plot of land that gets full sun in fall. The ground should be relatively level and slope no more than 15 degrees at any point.
Remove all trees from the planting area. A truffle orchard should be free of trees for at least one year. Any adjacent trees should be at least 30 feet away from the orchard, or else they may contaminate the truffle trees' roots and compete with them for water.
Have your soil tested by the local County Extension Office to discover its pH. Truffle trees need soil pH between 7.5 and 7.9. If your soil is too acidic, you must add lime to the soil to raise its pH.
Remove all plants in the planting area, and 3 feet around it.
Till the soil to a depth of 10 inches using a rototiller.
Spread a 3-inch layer of aged organic compost over the planting area. Truffle trees thrive in soils with low fertility. This will be all the fertilization that your truffle trees need to produce their first crop.
Till the soil again, to a depth of 10 inches.
Purchase your truffle trees. Truffle mushrooms grow amongst the roots of hazelnuts and live oaks that have been inoculated with truffle spores. Be sure to purchase your trees from a reputable and successful truffle farmer as close to your area as possible. Truffles take a considerable investment of time and energy to grow. Its good to have the security of starting with the best products available to you. Have the truffle trees shipped in winter so that they can be planted in early spring while they are still dormant.
Dig the holes for your truffle tree saplings. Each hole should be twice as wide and just as deep as the root-ball of your trees. Arrange the holes in grids that allow exactly 6 feet between each tree and 12 feet between each row. Carefully remove each tree from its container and place it in the hole. Refill the hole and bury the tree so that soil just covers its root-ball. Pat the soil down with your hands to remove any air pockets.
Water the truffle tree seedlings so that the soil beneath the root ball is moist. The best way to do this is to run a slow hose at the base of the tree. Throughout their lives, your truffle trees must be watered regularly to prevent their roots from drying out.
Hand weed the truffle grove. Grass and weeds will compete with your truffle trees for water. Perform all the weeding and tending by hand.
Wait five to 10 years for your truffles to form. Look for bulges around the roots in late summer. This is a sign that your truffles may be ready to harvest in winter, somewhere between mid-November and early March. However, your timing must be precise. Once ripe, truffles only bloom for around 10 days.
Harvest your truffles, sniffing them out with truffle dogs or truffle pigs.
Things You Will Need
- Aged compost
- Truffle dog or pig
- Truffle trees
- Truffles grow the best between latitudes of 40 and 47 degrees north, between 300 and 3,000 feet above sea level. However, they can be grown further south if conditions are right.