Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NC Truffle investors – get ready!

In earlier posts I noted that North Carolina is the only place outside of Europe to successfully cultivate truffles, and it has the potential to become a multi-billion dollar a year crop.

The North Carolina Agriculture department did a truffle grant of a quarter million dollars six years ago, and the truffle farms should be mature next spring.

I have notes here on the state of truffles in North Carolina, and while I’m under a strict NDA, this could be the start of something HUGE!

A visit to the secret truffle farm

No joke, if truffle cultivation is shown to be feasible, it could mean billions in revenue to North Carolina, and the farmers are being very secretive, especially since the truffle trees take at least five years to mature. It’s a long term investment with high risk, and high rewards!

Planting Carolina Truffles can be tricky. The optimal site for a truffle orchard is an open area with good southern exposure, free of trees and roots for preferably a year or more prior to planting but with a minimum of six months. Up to a 15 degree slope is acceptable. European truffle farming history has shown that the middle ground between the trees, beneath the drip lines of the canopy, is where the roots meet, the ground is highly acidic and truffles grow aplenty.

You need a truffle dog/pig to sniff out your treasures

On rare occasions orchards have come into full production after four years, but in general it is not until the eighth year that production levels are reached.

We plan to do some experiments to see if ponies can smell truffles

But the good news is that production levels are about 50 to 75 pounds per year/ per acre and a mature, well-maintained; 1-acre orchard can produce up to 100 pounds per year for at least 30 years.

Left to right: Jennifer Burleson, Talmidge Burgess, Jimmie Gray, Richard Garland, Ben Kittleson

So here we are, at the moment of truth. If the NC Agricultural grants works out, North Carolina may shift from being the tobacco capital of the world to the truffle capital! Best of all, we will be taking market share from American enemies in France!