First commercially-grown black truffles for KZN

Three black Périgord truffles (Tuber melanosporum) were discovered on Max Bastard’s Willowdale Farm near Kokstad in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

First commercially-grown black truffles for KZN

Photo: Courtesy of Max Bastard
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These were the first commercially-grown specimens in KZN.

The first-ever black Périgord truffle to be commercially-grown in South Africa was discovered on a farm near Dullstroom in Mpumalanga in August 2014.

This was followed by a similar discovery on a Western Cape farm in August 2015.

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Bastard’s three truffles were produced in a 20ha orchard of host trees inoculated with black Périgord truffle spores four-and-a-half years ago.

“Black Périgord truffles are prized for their unique, pungent, earthy aroma, and [are] utilised in the best kitchens and restaurants around the world. [They] are one of the most expensive culinary ingredients globally, fetching up to US$2 000/kilogram (R30 700/kg),” said Bastard.

Prof Alessandra Zambonelli of the University of Bologna in Italy, told Farmer’s Weekly when the first commercially-grown black truffle was discovered in South Africa, that successful commercial production could be achieved in this country if sufficient host tree orchards were planted.

These host trees also needed to be of good quality, and the areas selected for truffle production had to be suitable.

These fungi are also successfully cultivated in countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the US.

Bastard said the first truffle he found on Willowdale Farm was “beautifully ripe” and weighed 97g, which was “a fairly large truffle with the average size being around 30g”.