Around Christmas each year I get out into the truffle groves and I start to look for the first of the next seasons truffles. This is what it is all about, the harvesting process is hard graft, but summer, well that’s the skill end of truffle growing. You see, primordia or truffle set occurs as early as November in Manjimup. The key to growing truffles is ensuring primordia happens and then to have the trees hold onto the fruiting truffles for the months to come ... to nurture and grow in the conditions that allow for truffles with great shape, good size and most importantly an aroma that blows you away! This truffle set can happen many times over summer, depending on conditions and we think is the difference between a bumper year and not. So 2016...
This was one week ago and what a ripper! We walked through the orchard covering the cracks in the soil caused by the growing truffle. About 20% of our truffles will crack the surface as they grow, not so much above the surface but as the Tuber swells, the ground cracks above. The problem is that often the laziest insects see a hole in the ground and think, whoopee! Wonder what’s down there. They jump in to see if something yummy got caught down there and find the truffle. Not good. Another issue can be if it rains it pools in the cracks and can cause rot. So we cover with a top secret dressing blended in a process that has taken a thousand years to develop, yup dirt from the next paddock.
But this week it rained, rained and rained. Record breaking rain. As never seen before in Manjimup, will this rot the truffle or humid conditions encourage fungal pathogens? Will the fruiting bodies swell and split? Well with 10 year’s experience in Truffles all I can say is, stuffed if I know. My son Brin still reckons it'll be a good season.