Of the 70 known edible truffle species, only the French black truffle or Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum) is grown commercially in Western Australia. The first planting of inoculated seedlings was in Manjimup in 1997.
The area and production of black truffles in the Manjimup and Pemberton areas are increasing. In 2006, production was over 150kg and the 2013 harvest was estimated at 5,600kg. French experts have stated that the quality of the WA truffles is equivalent to northern hemisphere truffles.
There are now over 150 hectares of truffle orchards or truffleries, comprising over 94,000 inoculated trees, in Western Australia, spread across 50 properties.
The vast majority are in the Manjimup and Pemberton area. A small number of inoculated trees have also been planted in the Perth Hills and at Toodyay, north-east of Perth as well as Margaret River, Walpole and Denmark.
The size of plantings varies from fewer than 10 trees to 38,000 trees. The median size of current orchards is 760 trees. Many of these trees are less than five years old. Truffles are usually not found until six or seven years after planting but can be found from year 4.
Roughly 95% of current Western Australian production is thought to come from just 35ha. Production is expected to increase as established truffle orchards mature.
The fresh WA truffle season runs from June to September. WA’s production is sold throughout Australia and in a range of international markets, about 80% being exported.
In 2013 the truffle industry in WA was estimated to produce 5.6 tonnes, valued at $5.6 million, which accounts for about 70% of the Australian truffle crop. Demand for T. melanosporum is high throughout the world. The average price received for Western Australian truffles in 2013 was $1,000.00 per kilogram.
The first commercial Australian truffle was produced in 1999 at Deloraine, Tasmania, but by 2007, Tasmanian production was only 50 to 60kg. In eastern Australia, there are truffle plantings from Stanthorpe, Qeensland to Tasmania. Others are around Armadale, Bowral and Orange in NSW, Canberra and Victoria. Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and ACT produced a combined total of 965kg in 2011 and 1,380kg in 2012.