Truffle cultivation in Chile
Important aspects that we want to share with you.
Essential to start. It marks the boundary where it is possible to develop a truffle project. Once a truffle plantation is established, correcting aspects of the soil are not appropriate (is inefficient) and substantially increases costs. To grow truffles requires a Mediterranean climate and water availability of water availability for irrigation.
A truffle soil must have the following initial conditions:
– Low or relatively low fertility.
– Friable and well-aerated soils. Loam, sandy loam, silt loam.
– Site history without forests or intensive crops.
– Adequate topography for a tree plantation and to prevent rainwater settling.
A Mediterranean climate is required and in most cases a significant lime amendment is needed to reach a pH of 7.5-8.5, an essential condition for black truffle cultivation.
The plant is the productive incubator, it is also essential to get off to a good start. A quality plant is essential. Obtain plants from specialized, reliable and experienced nurseries, and do not risk a long term project with an important investment by looking for plants without accredited certification or produced in an artisanal way.
There are several key conditions that must be met for the successful establishment and development of a truffle plantation, among them are a pH between 7.5 - 8.5, grainy soils, sufficient soil moisture in key periods during the summer period, minimal presence of competing fungi, weed control and particular pruning for truffle trees.
Knowing how to manage my plantation in the different stages of cultivation. Each truffle orchard is unique, and therefore the application of cultural practices should be adapted to each case.
In general, truffle growing has four stages: a) establishment; b) pre-production; c) production; d) renewal.
Control and follow up
To know, by sampling techniques, if the truffle orchard is adequately complying with the pre- and fruiting stages and also that the essential factors of the soil, roots, sanitary and nutritional conditions of the plant are correct.
To harvest ripe truffles, very particular practices are required based on animals that can detect their aroma from greater distances and at greater depths than humans. Currently, the most appropriate way of harvesting is with specially trained dogs.
A truffle can last in fresh conditions for a maximum of 10 days under refrigerated and proper packaging.
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Black truffle production in Europe is highly seasonal, and fresh product is available from mid November to February. In Chile, one of the main commercial advantages is to produce truffles in the off-season, gaining access to mass consumption markets when the main producing countries (France, Spain and Italy) do not have fresh black truffles.
The domestic market is still in an incipient stage, consuming about 10% of production.
In truffle cultivation, dogs are essential partners. They are the "truffle hunters" par excellence. They are specially trained to search for ripe truffles by sniffing them out. In general, any dog has the olfactory capacity to capture the scent of truffles, but not all dogs are suitable as truffle-hunting dogs.
The obedient character is essential and their physical conditions must satisfy needs that allow them to walk the truffle orchard for a relatively long period of time, and not least, to work in the middle of winter. In Chile, Labradors, Border Collies, Fox Terriers, Spanish Water dogs, German Shepherd, Beagles, Braco and mestizos dogs are used.