Strada del Tartufo e della Castagna - Valle del Turano

The truffieres

Truffle growing takes place by bedding out truffle producing saplings, that is plants whose roots are made to associate with the truffle’s spores with which they will then live in symbiosis. The saplings are then transplanted into suitable terrains (truffle grounds) where they will enable the truffle to complete its biological cycle onto the production of the fruit.
There are now safe and relatively inexpensive lab methods for the production of truffle producing plants, as enormous improvements and advances in research have enabled their growing on an extensive scale.

How much does a truffle farm produce? It all depends on the conditions of the soil, the microclimate and the local meteorological conditions. If all these conditions are favourable to truffle growth, more than 60 kg/ha per year can be produced.

Truffle unearthing is a delicate stage, because the spot where the fruiting bodies, i.e. the truffles, are found, has to be pinpointed with great precision and then they have to be extracted very gently. The task of pinpointing the truffles is entrusted to specifically trained truffle dogs. A hole (called “forata”, or digging point) is dug where the dog has indicated and once the truffle has been extracted the hole must be perfectly covered again, so as to avoid the drying up of the filaments and the spores (mycelium).

TRUFFLE FARMING FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE MODERN DAY

From antiquity to the early nineteenth century, there were efforts to grow truffles directly, by distributing the ground fruiting body (that is, the truffle itself) over the soil, using the method used for agricultural sowing. At that time the symbiotic relationship between the plant and the truffle was still not known.

From the early 19th century to about half the twentieth, the relationship between the plant and the truffle became known. At this point the method of indirect growing, using trees, was used. This is when they started growing suitable truffle plants on land that had the necessary characteristics for truffle growing.

From the early sixties to the beginning of the eighties, truffle growing improved remarkably. Plants were mycorrhized in the lab beforehand, inoculated with truffle spores in the roots, grown in the greenhouse and then planted in all over the truffiere’s field. A lot of research and experimenting goes into the prized black truffle (Tuber melanosporum).

From the early eighties to today, owing to the scientific knowledge accumulated in the various fields it is now possible to grow even the prized white truffle (Tuber magnatum). Three disciplines are currently required in order to grow truffles: nursery techniques, ecology, agronomy. Other disciplines come into play as well, such as molecular biology, botany, microbiology, and geopedology, which are needed to identify and certify the production, as well as study the truffle’s biology and its univocal characterization further. This is the only way prized truffle production areas can be safeguarded, as well as truffle quality and consumer protection as a result.