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truffles and mushrooms  RSS feed

 
Thomas Olson
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Can the two grow together? I understand truffles grow on living roots, and mushrooms on the dead ones. But they both have networks. I'm wondering if the networks have to compete with each other.
 
John Elliott
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They are different genera in the Fungal Kingdom. A truffle is simply an underground spore body, whereas a mushroom is an aboveground one. In between are the puffballs, which have the shape and structure of a truffle, but they sit above ground to discharge their spores.

Mushrooms also grow on living roots, the operative word to know here is "mycorrhizal" -- a fungus that has developed a symbiotic relationship with a plant and grows on the roots of the plant to the benefit of both.

There is quite a bit of competition between different species of mushroom. When one species has colonized a tree, it will try to push out species that are competing for the same set of nutrients. Then again, a species that is happy to colonize the roots of an oak tree will not be in much competition with a species that has evolved to decompose the dead grass around the base of the oak tree.

Oak trees are heavily dependent on mycorrhiza, and the best seedlings grow from media that is inoculated with their fungal partner, be it a bolete (known culinarily by the Italian terms porcini or cepi) or a member of the Tuber genus (a truffle). While boletes are easy to find, truffles are hidden from view, and to find them, you can't use your visual senses and need to use the olfactory sense. Since humans have such poor olfactory organs, they usually subcontract this task off to dogs or pigs.

It is possible to use spores from truffles to inoculate new oak trees, but a grown tree probably already has its mycorrhizal associations set, and the truffle spores would be outcompeted. This is why the location of truffle hunting grounds is kept secret: you can't just pull up some dirt and get a successful transplant. You would probably have better luck if you started acorns in a truffle-spore media and waited many years.
 
Thomas Olson
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Yup, you gave me what was needed. I don't have the 20k they want from me. They will only do Bur Oak with summer truffle if I order 1000 trees at $20. So I think I'm going to have to go about this on my own. I know how to work with media, and I have time, so I'm game. I think my odds are better without New World Truffleries anyway. I'm pretty far north, so I need cold tolerance. I doubt the Bur Oaks in the south are cold tolerant enough to handle zone 2b. I want to find the northernmost bur oak in my area and use those acorns, this way I'm guaranteed cold tolerance.

 
John Elliott
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Oh, you can do this by yourself, 20K sounds like a swindle to me. Let me tell you a little story about saw oaks.

So we have these oaks trees that are commonly used in landscaping around here that have an acorn that looks almost identical to a bur oak acorn. But the leaves are oval with a sawtooth edge, not at all similar to bur oak leaves. Last September, I went collecting acorns, seeing if I could get a good germination rate. I put them in a bucket with a 50:50 mix of composted manure and peat moss, and then took some boletes I had collected and put them through the blender and soaked the media and the acorns well. I planted maybe a dozen acorns out in the dirt, each with a trowelful of the inoculated mix and I had a lot of acorns left over. I put the extra acorns and media in a 10" plastic pot and pretty much neglected it out in the yard for the rest of the winter.

Fast forward to this March, and I noticed that there were a couple sprouts in the plastic pot! A couple weeks later there were more. A month later, the pot was completely crowded with oak seedlings, I had far more than I knew what to do with. When I dumped out the plastic pot, every single acorn had germinated! They were off to a better start than even the ones that were planted out in the yard.

If this gives you ideas, here is what you need to do: (1) get fresh acorns right when they are ready to drop. Shake the tree if you have to, but leave the ones on the ground that the bugs have gotten to. (2) you don't need much bolete or truffle to do your inoculation. Ten grams of mushroom blended up in a liter of water will be plenty of spore inoculate for dozens of acorns.



This enormously successful germination trial has given me a new hypothesis to work from: Oak seedlings get their mycorrhizal association as soon as the root emerges from the hull of the acorn. If it emerges into a media that is saturated with fungi that are mycorrhizal for oaks, the little seedling grows like a weed!
 
Thomas Olson
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I've actually done that with all kinds of seeds. I would put them in a wet paper towel and toss it in a plastic bag to see what happens. Leave it for a few weeks and every bag will be a root mass, no matter what the seed is.

Anyway, I would like to know how to isolate the truffle. If I buy a truffle, I'm pretty sure I'm also buying a million other types of microbes with it. It wouldn't be a big deal if I were doing this in Europe, where those microbes are from. But around in in Canada, I'm pretty sure they'll cause problems when they change genetic material with our microbes.
 
John Elliott
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If I buy a truffle, I'm pretty sure I'm also buying a million other types of microbes with it.


Not really. Your piece of truffle will have millions, maybe even billions of the spores you want, and the counts of the other microbes are going to be small in comparison. And then, most of them will be surface contamination. If you cut into the truffle and take a section out of the middle, it's probably going to be all truffle spores. If you were doing research laboratory grade work, you would want to isolate and purify until you are 100% sure of what you have, but you are not, so you rely on the spore ratios to give you what you want. The thing to remember about spores is that they are meant to stay dormant until conditions arise that would allow them to grow and develop into hyphae. Those bags of dried mushrooms that you can buy in ethnic grocery stores? Probably lots of viable spores in them if you plate them out on agar and coax them into growing.

You may want to read up on techniques for culturing mycorrhizal fungi. There have been some advances made on what plants make good hosts, and what is a good media for both the plant and the mycorrhizal associate.

 
Mary Saunders
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Truffles no longer come just from Europe. I know in Oregon there are truffle-rustlers. I don't know where you are from, but you may be able to do a search in case you already can get truffles at a local market.
 
Mary Saunders
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Here is a link for a story on truffle culture and practice.

http://www.nwnewsnetwork.org/post/local-dogs-earn-their-keep-sniffing-out-truffles
 
John Elliott
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Truffles no longer come just from Europe. I know in Oregon there are truffle-rustlers.


I think Thomas' biggest problem is that he is in the Great White North, and all the culinary truffles come from Mediterranean climates. Now if he can inoculate some acorns with truffle spores and give them a good start so that the tap root stays down below the frost depth, maybe you can trick the fungus into thinking it is in a good environment. Fungi have their optimum temperature ranges, and who knows if you can push truffles to a lower temperature. I haven't read of people trying to do that.
 
Mary Saunders
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Black Perigords are growing in Canada. British Columbia to be exact. I didn't try to copy the url, but if you search Truffles Canada, something comes up on the first page with some interesting text and pictures. They are grown on hazelnut stock, as the ones I know of in Oregon are. So if you can buy them at a farmer's market, you could perhaps grind them up in a blender and put them together with some native, viable hazelnut seeds, and hope for the best?
 
Marianne Cicala
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VA now has some truffle growers, doing acorn inoculation as John described.
 
kravka kravov
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Hello,
interesting discusion!
John Elliott,can you please tell me what is the progress of those oaks?It will be great if you post some pic-s.
Which type of boletu you are using?

 
John Elliott
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kravka kravov wrote:can you please tell me what is the progress of those oaks?It will be great if you post some pic-s.
Which type of boletu you are using?


Oak trees are late leafing out this year, so I will have to wait on a progress report. I think the boletes in the picture above are Bay Boletes (Boletus Badius), and I also use Tylopilus Plumbeoviolaceus when inoculating because it is quite common around here. I would like to phase the second one out though, and I should give more attention to encouraging only the edible boletes.

 
kravka kravov
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Greetings,John.
no problems.Just make some pictures when leaves comeout.
Your trees should be one year old right?
Are there any visable signs for mychorizal inaculation.Can you inspect the roots?

>I will try to replicate your experiment with most of edible boletu strains also.Gonna use just spread acorns collected from forest.


 
Dan Permington
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Just bought a piece of land along the Southern Oregon Coast Range and am thinking about doing a couple acres with some Perigord Truffle inoculated Hazelnut trees. I'd love to do the inoculation myself, so browsing this thread has been interesting. The inoculated seedlings go for $22 a pop, so that can add up quickly and turn into quite the investment. A couple interesting notes... the trees that are inoculated with the French truffles are a European variety of Oaks and Hazelnuts. So soil amending is necessary to make the acidic soils here in Oregon more alkaline for the trees and truffles. The other thing to think about is how wet it is in Oregon. Yes we have our native truffles, but that does not mean that European truffles will grow well here. Last year they uncovered the first cultivated European truffle in Oregon. So, I'd like to see if there's a bit more success this year. Otherwise, I could always inoculate a bunch of Doug Firs with Oregon Whites, even though they sell for significantly less. Probably wouldn't have to worry about amending the soil or rain water drainage.
 
Bethany Dutch
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ANy updates on this? I just came across an article about growing truffles and I am just fascinated. I'm north of Spokane, though, and so our cold temps might make it impossible. I like the idea of growing the trees from acorns, quite a bit cheaper than $20/tree!
 
Bethany Dutch
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Dan Permington wrote:Just bought a piece of land along the Southern Oregon Coast Range and am thinking about doing a couple acres with some Perigord Truffle inoculated Hazelnut trees. I'd love to do the inoculation myself, so browsing this thread has been interesting. The inoculated seedlings go for $22 a pop, so that can add up quickly and turn into quite the investment. A couple interesting notes... the trees that are inoculated with the French truffles are a European variety of Oaks and Hazelnuts. So soil amending is necessary to make the acidic soils here in Oregon more alkaline for the trees and truffles. The other thing to think about is how wet it is in Oregon. Yes we have our native truffles, but that does not mean that European truffles will grow well here. Last year they uncovered the first cultivated European truffle in Oregon. So, I'd like to see if there's a bit more success this year. Otherwise, I could always inoculate a bunch of Doug Firs with Oregon Whites, even though they sell for significantly less. Probably wouldn't have to worry about amending the soil or rain water drainage.


I'm thinking it might be worth doing the same- I have tons of doug firs, so I know they will grow well here, whereas the European black truffles would require a lot more coddling if they even could survive the low temps where I live. Did you ever do anything with this? I might just buy a white truffle or two and inoculate some seeds right now.
 
David Miller
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What types of North American truffles are there? Any suppliers for 'stock'? I'm in VA, and would love info on VA truffle farming
 
Bethany Dutch
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David Miller wrote:What types of North American truffles are there? Any suppliers for 'stock'? I'm in VA, and would love info on VA truffle farming


I haven't been able to find any "stock" available for the Oregon truffles. They have Oregon White and Oregon Black, as far as I can tell, and I don't know if there are other varieties. They aren't really being cultivated so there's not a whole lot of information besides that they grow in symbiosis with douglas firs and information for truffle hunters on how to find them.

At current prices of $20/oz, that would still be a very high value crop! I was thinking if I could get my hands on a little bit of fresh oregon white truffle and do the same water slurry/seeds/inoculation/wintersow process that John did just using the white truffle and douglas fir seeds... but the smallest increment I could find for white truffles is 3oz at $60. I'd be ok with 10 or 15 grams! I have 20 acres with a huge amount of doug firs, so obviously they would grow well here. Right now would be a good time to do the inoculation and wintersowing.

If anyone wants to go in together to do this as an experiment and share the truffle in a co-op (or knows where I can buy a small amount) let me know. I'm totally wanting to try this but I don't want to buy $60 worth of truffle... and I'm north of Spokane fwiw.
 
David Miller
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Great info, thanks man. I'm not to the point of proceeding yet, everything is still in beta testing but when its time I'll let you know!
 
M.K. Dorje Jr.
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I strongly recommend that anyone who is interested in truffle cultivation should read "Taming the Truffle" , by Ian Hall, Gordon Brown and Alessandra Zambonelli. This book details the secrets to successful truffle cultivation. Although the book focuses on the European species, Oregon white truffle growers will learn a lot from this book, too. Site selection, raising the soil pH/calcium and site prep are all crucial. The Oregon Truffle Festival has classes and training seminars:

http://www.oregontrufflefestival.com/
 
klorinth McCoy
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Thomas, have you had any success finding truffles for your area? I'm slightly warmer than you but still very cold.

I really like this idea. Inoculating acorns and hazelnuts would be great. Especially if I could get good mushrooms and truffles for eating.
 
Brad Morse
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So many questions so little time. I originally posted this question in hugelkulture but it seems to be more relevant here. I am trying to set up a small truffle farm in the Puget Sound area. The soil PH there is between 4.5 to 7 depending on the area so I wanted to make huglekulture on contour and have the soil ph increased to 7.5 to 8. I should be able to do that with aglime but if you have other suggestions I would love to hear them. I also have to be concerned with competing mycorrhizas so I wanted to use the raised hugelkulture beds and set some type of barrier between them and the ground. I don’t have to worry about trees already having arbuscular mycorrhizas because they will not interfere with truffle production. I do have to worry about trees and plants that form ectomycorrhizas because they will compete with truffle production. Any advice you have on this would be greatly appreciated. I really like the idea of the peat and manure mix to start the seedlings. I think I would have to add some aglime or some other amendment to put trace minerals in the mix so the trffules would have something to give back to the seedlings. The soil I would like to produce in the hugelkulture beds are ph 7.3-8.1, bulk density (g/ml) 1.06 +/- 0.12, total calcium % 2.3 – 13.9, extractable calcium (ug/ml) 2000-5000, extractable phosphorus 4-4.2, extractable potassium 80-620, extractable magnesium 135-625, extractable sodium 2-26, extractable sulphur 2-25, extractable iron 40-117, organic carbon % .8-8.8, carbon to nitrogen ratio 10-23.3, and cation exchange capacity (mmol/kg) 1.72 +/- 0.47. This type of soil would be the closest to the Italian white truffle soils I am trying to emulate. I am looking to obtain holly oaks acorns so I can inoculated with Tuber aestivum/uncinatum and maybe some hazelnuts too. Thanks for any help you can give.
 
Bethany Dutch
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I know this thread is mostly about the black truffles, but I came across this study that was interesting.
http://www.ntfpinfo.us/docs/ifcae/Vasquez2012-MarketAnalysisOregonTrufflesv121412.pdf

Especially where it basically says a lot of people are having luck with (Oregon truffles) pouring a slurry of rotted truffle right on established tree roots (Douglas Fir). But it is also a very encouraging analysis which I think would be applicable to both markets, Oregon and European truffles. Either way. a very high value crop that would be very compatible with good woodland management, especially if it works in my situation.

I have 20 acres of these trees. So tempted to go buy some frozen truffles, blend 'em up and give it a try. There is just so little information available about cultivating these. I don't know if I could use frozen or would need to use fresh (not available until December, but we have snow cover then, so that would make it hard to dig the ground to expose the roots, or if any suppliers would allow me to purchase any they had that had gone bad, etc.
 
Tom Snow
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Brad Morse wrote:So many questions so little time. I originally posted this question in hugelkulture but it seems to be more relevant here. I am trying to set up a small truffle farm in the Puget Sound area. The soil PH there is between 4.5 to 7 depending on the area so I wanted to make huglekulture on contour and have the soil ph increased to 7.5 to 8...


Hey Brad, we've worked through the same problem set in Northeastern Arkansas. We originally began (in 2012) with some advice from folks in Oregon and added 120 tons of agricultural lime to 3 acres in an attempt to raise the pH from an average 5.3 to 8.0. Lat year we started applying liquid lime (CaCO3), but still topped out at 7.8...short of our final goal of 8.3. While we have seen huge improvements in soil structure, amazing grass growth and a 5 fold increase in cation exchange capacity, we could not get past 7.8. We met with some folks at AgriGro (http://www.agrigro.com - based a few miles north of us in Southern Missouri) this summer in a search for a better supplier of liquid Ca. In working with their lead agronomist, we realized that we were out of balance with Ca compared to Mg, K and Na. Honestly I felt some chagrin at first, but when I re-read my notes and literature references, I realized that much of what is written is oriented on the addition of lime or Calcium in some form. It might have been oversight on my part, but I didn't see a lot of material covering the interrelation between Ca, Mg and K for increasing pH. I sent our 2012 (start) and most recent USDA soil tests in and Tim T. at AgriGro was kind enough to provide his opinion on application rates and organic sources (some of which AgriGro did not sell, such as SulPoMag) to restore our balance and get to 8.3 or slightly higher.

Hope that helps...
 
Casie Becker
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I stumbled across this article when looking up morel information http://www.grit.com/farm-and-garden/crops/how-to-grow-truffles-zm0z14mjzsin It makes me wonder if anyone knows where all the attempts that were abandoned are? Anyone else think there's abandoned acres of woodland where these expensive delicacies are happily producing with no further human interference?
 
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