1. Q. Is the black truffle (Tuber Melanosporum) produced in Manjimup the same species as the black truffle produced in France?
A. Yes, it is genetically identical.
2. Q. What sort of trees are used for the production of the French black truffle?
A. Hazelnut, and some varieties of oak. They are the only host trees that will result in the generation of French black truffles.
3. Q. What is the annual world production of French black truffle?
A. Pre-World War 1 the estimate was 2,000 tonnes per annum. Due to two world wars in Europe destroying much of the collecting grounds, the change in climate due to global warming, the invasion of other truffle species (there are over 70 species found in Europe) and the destruction of forests in Europe, the production dropped to approximately 50-100 tonnes per annum by the late 20th century with only 10 tonnes produced in 1984, and 8 tonnes in 2004,
4.Q. How many tonnes of French black truffle will be generated at Oak Valley when the plantations reach their optimum yield?
A. Based on an estimated yield of 200kgs per hectare - 15 tonnes!
5.Q. How is a truffle produced?
A. The root of the oak and hazelnut seedling are inoculated with the French black truffle fungi. This is achieved by macerating the French black truffle and dipping the root system of the oak and hazelnut trees in the fungi. The fungi then wraps itself around the roots and when planted in the ground there is a symbiotic relationship between the truffle fungi. The truffle fungi delivers minerals such as phosphorous to the tree, and in return the tree delivers organic substances such as sugars to the fungi. The truffle fungi develops a network of filaments that are invisible to the naked eye. During summer the truffle is generated and in winter, as the ground cools, the truffle ripens.
6.Q. Are French black truffles like an underground mushroom?
A. Yes, although its characteristics and its relative scarcity creates a price which is vastly different to other mushrooms.
7.Q. Why was Manjimup selected for French black truffle production?
A. Manjimup has a Mediterranean climate which is essential for French black truffle production, ample water, and excellent soils. For example, the primary reason why French black truffle production in Tasmania has been very low is that they have a cool climate. Truffles need warm days and cool nights. In Tasmania it is not warm enough during the day in Summer.
8.Q. When were the first French black truffles produced outside of Europe?
A. In 1991 the first truffle plantation was established in Texas.
9.Q. When was the first French black truffle grown in Australia?
A. In 1999 the first French black yruffle was dug up in Tasmania. It weighed 125 grams.
10.Q. How many trees are planted per hectare at Oak Valley?
A. 500 trees - 50% oak and 50% hazelnut.
11.Q. When were the first trees planted in Oak Valley?
A. June 2006.
12.Q. How many hectares are under plantation at Oak Valley?
A. 75 hectares.
13.Q. How much water does the dam hold?
A. 300 megalitres.
14.Q. How long is the dam?
A. 1 kilometre.
15.Q. How does the dam fill?
A. Apart from winter rain, there are 7 natural underground springs adjacent to the dam which produce water 12 months of the year.
16.Q. Do you use pigs to hunt for truffles?
A. No. Pigs are no longer used as the sows destroy the truffles (they try to eat them) when they find a truffle. We use dogs.
17.Q. What breed of dogs are used?
A. There are a number of breeds that are used, ranging from labradors to kelpies to German short haired pointers. The majority of dogs can be trained to hunt for truffles. The stamina and nature of the dog is a critical factor.
18.Q. When are truffles harvested?
A. During Winter - June, July, and August.
19.Q. How many years does it take before the first truffles are found?
A. Approximately four years after planting. The yields increase each years exponentially by a factor of around three with the optimum yield being reach around 14-15 years.
20.Q. What is the “life” of a freshly harvested truffle?
A. 4-5 days.
21.Q. How are fresh truffle stored?
A. They are kept at standard refrigerator temperature and they are kept dry.
22.Q. Can truffles be frozen?
A. Yes, however they do lose some of their pungent aroma and flavour when they are defrosted.
23.Q. How are they packaged and delivered overseas?
A. They are packaged in polystyrene containers with cooling bricks and are sent over seas by air. Typically a truffle harvested in the morning in Manjimup will be delivered to the customer in Hong Kong the next day.
24.Q. What is the retail price of truffles? Can they be purchased from the farm direct?
A. The retail price depends on the grading of the truffle and varies from $1,800 - $2,300 per kg. They can be purchased from Oak Valley.
The most expensive truffle is the white truffle which only occurs in the wild in Italy. Despite many attempts to
reproduce the White Truffle in a plantation environment none have succeeded. The price of the white truffle is
approximately double that of the French black truffle.