North Central SARE From the Field Profile
Truffle Orchard Establishment — The Burgundy Truffle
Phase 1 & 2: Truffle Orchard Establishment - The Burgundy Truffle as a New Sustainable Agroforestry Crop for Missouri
Ozark Forest Mushrooms (OFM), owned by Nicola Macpherson Hellmuth, specializes in log-grown shiitake mushrooms, and oyster mushrooms grown on bagged agricultural waste substrate. Additionally, OFM sells imported truffles. Hellmuth viewed growing truffles as an opportunity to introduce an exciting new agroforesty product into an area of high unemployment, and to provide an additional culinary highlight and agrotourism attraction in the region. With SARE support, she has been working to cultivate the European burgundy truffle.
Hellmuth is working with Dr. Johann Bruhn of the Division of Plant Sciences and the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Dr. Bruhn believes that under proper conditions Burgundy truffle production could reach 60 lbs. per acre annually by the time the orchard is 10 years old.
A key problem addressed in phase 1 of the project was how to alter the soil, which is naturally acidic, to a pH of 7.5 and keep it there. In all other aspects, this area of the Ozarks is very similar to the Burgundy truffle-growing regions in Europe. Lime was added to the soil to raise the pH level.
In phase 2 of the project, organic matter was added to the soil using the most cost effective options — resources close at hand. Milfoil or “lake weed” was harvested from a nearby lake. When dried and ground, it produced a peat-moss-like bedding material encrusted with lime that helped suppress weeds while adding additional organic content to the soil. Also, white oak wood chips derived from “spent” shiitake substrate logs were worked into the soil in early spring, as was hay. OFM has also looked at different ways to produce a large amount of biochar using chips from Missouri Mulch. The wood chips are a byproduct of the bourbon barrel cooperage industry. Presently, 200 cubic yards of double ground white oak bark from the cooperage industry at Salem Wood Products are being added to the soil and will be disked in prior to tree planting this fall.
After the beds have been formed with a Rice Levee plow, the host white RPM oak trees from Forrest Keeling Nursery will be planted late this fall in conjunction with the Swedish Burgundy truffle season. Swedish truffles will be used as an inoculant. An irrigation system and deer fence will be installed to water the tree seedlings and protect them from deer damage. An open house is planned for spring 2014.
View a presentation on this project, from the 2012 Farmers Forum, through NCR-SARE's YouTube playlist. Visit www.youtube.com/NCRSAREvideo for this and other videos.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) FNC10-834, Phase 1: Truffle Orchard Establishment - The Burgundy Truffle as a New Sustainable Agroforestry Crop for the Missouri Ozarks, and FNC12-878, Phase 2: Burgundy Truffle Orchard Establishment - The Burgundy Truffle as a New Sustainable Agro-forestry Crop for Missouri.
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Project products are developed as part of SARE grants. They are made available with support from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA). Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed within project products do not necessarily reflect the view of the SARE program or the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.