Our harvest finished early August but there's still been plenty of work going on in the trufferie. Possibly the biggest news is that Ted found his first truffle! With practically no training he figured out the connection between Mum's bag of cheese treats and ripe truffle and turned up behind me on one of our last hunts with a beautiful big truffle in his mouth. So, my goal this summer is to 'untrain' him, get him used to working in a harness and indicating on truffle rather than self-harvesting. Clever boy though!
Our first task post-harvest was to prune the trees. We've pruned each year but noticed this season that production was much better in areas where there was less canopy in the trufferie. A lot of the information we have read and heard has been around letting light into the trufferie giving the ground more of a chance to warm up in summer in order for the spores to multiply and grow. When you look at European and Australian trufferies they have smaller trees and their trufferies are very open to light. So working on what we observed in our own trufferie and information we have gathered we decided to do a big prune this year - and boy was it big! We took the trees down from around 5m high to about 3m and hedged the sides of them. This definately wasn't a chainsaw and pruning shears event and we had an agricultural hedge trimmer come in and hedge the rows. They looked pretty bare to start with but the regrowth is already tsking off. These trees are very hard to knock back apparently. Sun is now streaming into the trufferie and each row is getting a good amount of light so it will be interesting to see how this pans out.
Next on the list was 'ripping' the rows in order to promote more fine root growth for the spores to attach to. Then 30 tons of lime were spread across the trufferie as Perigord truffle like a high pH for optimal growth. Once we'd done that we continued our reinfection cycle adding truffle spore and some essential nutrients back into the trufferie to encourage further infection. Technical papers have shown that continual removal of truffle can result in a deficit of one of the mating type of spores so it's really important to keep reintroducing new spores.
So now it's a matter of keeping the grass down in the trufferie and waiting to see the results of our off-season maintenance - oh and of course the all important dog training.