Frequently asked questions
Q: If I use hazelnut trees as hosts is it possible to profitably harvest the nuts along with the truffles?
A: The hazelnut trees used to cultivate truffles will produce nuts, but for a variety of reasons it would be difficult to harvest them profitably. First, truffle trees are grown from seed so they are not of any named hazelnut cultivar and they will produce heterogeneous qualities and quantities of nuts. Second, the equipment used to harvest hazelnuts requires hard packed soil beneath the trees whereas truffles require loose, fluffy soil. Third, the truffles begin to develop in the summer and are present during the time when hazelnut harvesting equipment would need to be driving on the site. Truffles near the soil surface could easily be squashed by vehicles driving on the site. Work is underway to develop truffle trees that will produce high quality nuts and hazelnut farming methods do exist that would be compatible with joint truffle production, but these efforts will take some time.
Q: Can I grow grapes, lavender or other crops between the rows of trees before they begin producing truffles?
A: Yes, truffle trees are often planted in old vineyards and lavender fields and many other crops would also be compatible. However, the truffles live in areas with dry summers and are not accustomed to constant moisture availability throughout the summer. Some irrigation can be beneficial to truffles, but too much may shift the competitive balance toward their competitors with a consequent decline in truffle production. Also, truffles typically grow in somewhat low productivity soils and too much fertilization may similarly put them at a competitive disadvantage against competing fungi. So, any other crops planted between the rows of truffle trees should require no more moisture or fertilization than the truffles and they should be able to tolerate the high pH conditions required by the truffles.