Truffières is the French word for cultivated truffle orchards: patches of land that are populated with seedling trees that have been artificially inoculated with truffle spores.
To create a Truffière, hazelnuts and acorns are gathered from trees that are already successfully harbouring truffles underground. The nuts are sprouted in semi-sterile environments that stop other funguses from claiming a place on the seedlings’ roots. Then, truffle spores are introduced onto the roots of the seedlings in such a way as to promote the symbiotic blending necessary for the tree and the truffles, in a high pH soil. The optimum soil pH is 7.9.
Within 8 months, the seedlings can be planted out into the orchard. However, though a few truffles may appear after 3 years, it will take 10 to 20 years for an orchard to start producing any truffle harvest of note,
Research on how to cultivate truffles started in the mid-1800s, but only in the late 1970s did some success come along. Most are still harvested from the wild. Growers have ad the most success with “French” or Périgord black truffles (aka Tuber melanosporum.)
Truffle cultivation is being tried in France, Italy, New Zealand and Tasmania (Australia.) Because New Zealand and Australia’s seasons are the opposite of what they are in the northern hemisphere, their goal is to supply the world truffle market when truffles are out of season up north.
By 1990, New Zealand had eleven Truffières started. An orchard on the north island that was seeded in 1988 produced the first cultivated truffle in 1993. Overall production, though, was set back by native underground funguses that moved in and tried to muscle the foreign newcomers out, but after modifying farming techniques, the farmers were able to make a commercially viable harvest of Périgord black truffles in 1997. By 2005, 6 of the 11 orchards started showing signs of truffle growth, and over 50 new orchards had been started in the meantime.
Production started in Tasmania in 1999.
The New Zealand Truffle Association was set up in 1991.