BLACK TRUFFLE PRODUCTION IN SOUTH AFRICA
Volker Miros1, Paul Miros1, Ian Hall2 , Alessandra Zambonelli3
1 Woodford Truffles SA (Pty)Ltd, South Africa
2Truffles and Mushrooms (Consulting) Ltd, P.O. Box 268, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
3Department of Agricultural Science, Bologna University, viale Fanin 46, 40127 Bologna
On day three of Woodford's Truffle Orchard Inspection Tour 2015, we arrived at Willowdale Farm to see Max Bastard, Photographer and Truffle Farmer in Kokstad, KZN
Max's long-standing family farm was a three hour drive in the Woodford Truffle Bus - from the George airport we drove up into the mountains and then into the snow line. The first question potential partners ask us when inquiring about the suitability of their farm location for growing a truffle orchard is: do I have the right climate conditions for growing truffles.
Meet Max, one of Woodford Truffles favourite partner clients. He is a passionate farmer who informs himself with solid research and so is able to contribute to research as well as ask us great questions. With his sound base of knowledge about truffle production and with our regular visits and tests, we anticipate an excellent truffle future here at Willowdale Farms. Max has two 15 hectare orchards, one newly planted.
The first of two Orchards installed on Willowdale Farm.
Max is also training his own dog to be a truffle hunter. Woodford's truffle dog breeders and trainers provide tried and tested methods they have used for many years now as they have trained our own truffle dogs.
Max and Volker preparing a meal together.
We feel that Kokstaad is a prime truffle growing hot spot for the Eastern Cape. And, the more farmers we can encourage to produce truffles in this area, the better!
SOUTH AFRICA’S TRUFFLE ORCHARD HOT SPOT - KOUWDOW
Volker Miros and Professor Alessandra Zambonelli excited to be visiting what Woodford Truffles considers to be a prime South African Balck Perigord Truffle growing hot spot.
Volker Miros; "We have a lot of hope for this area to become a Truffle hot spot for farmers in the region. Of course, the more farmers in the area that are growing truffles, the better it is for all. We already have 20 Ha planted and another 12 Ha in the pipeline in this area alone"
Next stop on our Truffle Inspection Tour 2015 was a visit to the farm owned by Ansius Lategan and family.
As Professor Zambonelli had brought with her several of the freshest Black Perigord Truffles from Bologna for our inoculation purposes, we happily packed away a couple of the primest truffles for a truffle tasting with local friends and farmers.
And what better local restaurant than La Rosa Blú Cafê on the Rosenhof Rose-farm to treat the success of their truffle venture?
Our truffle tasting menu was skilfully executed and beautifully presented by Chef Peter-John Snyman. We started with Chef Snyman's creamiest of eggs made special with generous shavings of black truffles. Only the glorious steamed Kabeljou on mash with creamy truffle dressing could have topped that. And it did!
Our partners Lategan and de Kock are taking delivery of their first inoculated truffle trees in September.
We look forward to many more of our inspection tours to this area. Partner de Kock says that truffle farming can do for the Southern Cape what vineyards have done for the winelands of the Western Cape:
Riaan Van Zyl talking about orchard setup
"Truffle tourism is huge and truffle products like truffle butter are extremely popular. Chefs are also keen to use it in their dishes and, although we will concentrate on the export market as our seasons differ from that of Europe, we hope to be able to provide the local market with truffles at affordable prices"
Truffle Farmers orchard shows good micorrhizal inoculation.
Our Joint Venture Partner "Max" farming with 10 hectares of truffles on Willowdale near Kokstad is delighted with the mycorrhizal development of his trees. Trees are growing well as shown in this photograph.
Max has taken ultra close-ups of root sections of his trees and the Melanosporum mycorrhizae were identified by Professor Alessandra Zambonelli of Bologna University. With good mycorrihzae developing on the tree-roots, truffles are usually not far behind.
Melanosporum Mycorrhizal infection
In autumn of the year 2014 "Woodfords" trained trufflers "Bonnie and Clyde" will visit Max's orchard to test if truffles can be found yet.
THE WOODFORD NEWS no. 2 2012-08-12
We thought we should let everyone know that things at Woodford Truffles continue to progress well and that in the last year or two a number of farsighted people, from all over the country, have bought into Woodford’s Joint-Venture.
There can be no doubt that Trufflemania has hit South Africa.
With computers, the Internet and E-mail, the world has shrunk completely, truffle growing in the Southern Hemisphere is definitely not an unknown business. New Zealand, Australia, Chile, are already harvesting good crops under conditions identical to those we have in our country, and locally Woodford Truffles, under the enthusiastic guidance of Volker Miros and his team, who have studied the subject extensively for more than ten years, and invested millions of Rands in putting Woodford Truffles into production on their farm Groenfontein in the Kouebokkeveld, are perhaps only a year or two from their first harvest.
We can be sure of this because in his usual thorough way Volker Miros has on board as advisors, Dr. Ian Hall, mycologist in New Zealand’s truffle growing industry and creator of a truffle grower’s bible, Professor Alesandra Zambonelli, professor of mycology at Bologna University in Italy, co-author of the truffle bible, and who visit us regularly to assess Woodford Truffles’ progress, as well as that of all the partners orchards who have bought into the Joint-Venture.
I was privileged to be present during their most recent visit late last year, when, in Woodford’s laboratory at Groenfontein, they inspected the mycorrhizal development on roots taken from the Groenfontein orchards. Groenfontein management could not help but be very impressed and excited by their ecstatic reports; “The best I’ve ever seen” was Professor Zambonelli’s delighted comment.
This just goes to prove that if you follow the rules, progress is ongoing and one can look forward to a bumper crop when the time comes.
The knowledge is available, and just as when one plants apples or pears, if you follow the rules, if your land is in the correct temperature zone, and you prepare the soil, and provide enough water, there “WILL” be truffles.
The demand for truffles gets greater all the time, Woodford Truffles have been told by overseas buyers, over and over again, that they will take everything that South Africa can produce.
Meanwhile it’s a fact that now, and for the foreseeable future, there is a worldwide market waiting to pay top dollar for whatever we produce.
It’s just fortuitous that we in this country are gearing up for truffle production at this particular juncture, but rest assured that there has never been a better time to be in the truffle business.
An interesting recent development for Woodford Truffles has been the acquisition of our first truffle dogs. Trevor Norris, a well known animal trainer working in the film business, was brought onboard a year or so ago to train up specially bred dogs to sniff out and harvest truffles. Early last year, Woodford sent Trevor and his wife Marda, to Italy to witness truffle dogs at work, and to be introduced to the long established training methods in use in Europe. As you probably know, in the old days pigs were used for the harvesting of truffles, and very good they were too at finding them. However the pigs always wanted to eat the truffles, and sometimes in the ensuing scuffle the pig handlers would lose a couple of fingers, so they eventually changed to dogs. Groenfontein has “two” to begin with, and as they will be Truffle Hunters, it has been decided to call them Bonnie and Clyde. They are still puppies so it will be a while before we see results but we will keep you posted as to their progress.
Well that’s all for now,
All the very best,
Gary Haselau, for Woodford Truffles.
We are pleased to announce our first “Trufflers"
As we had announced some time ago to all our Joint Venture Partners, Marda and Trevor our animal handlers studied in Italy how to train "truffle dogs" are now ready with the first litter of "TRUFFLERS".They are a cross breed we selected to become our preferred truffle hunters. Trained dogs will become available for purchase when our orchards have the truffle aroma exuding from the soil. Trevor is also an animal handler in the Cape film industry.
Woodford Truffles is proud to welcome Professor Allesandra Zambonelli to the Team. Allesandra has many years of experience in research and the establishment of orchards internationally, with success stories of producing truffles.
The Black Perigord Truffle Inoculum used in the inoculation of the Woodford Truffles SA truffle trees is taken from imported Italian truffles, and the samples are DNA tested by Dr Renee Prins, Geneticist of the Cengen Laboratories, to ensure that no other mycorrhiza is present, and that only the finest Tuber Melanosporum is used to inoculate the trees which are destined to be planted in the Joint Venture Partners' orchards.