Burgundy Black Truffle Cultivation in an Agroforestry Practice

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The two best candidate species for truffle cultivation in the south-central U.S. are the Burgundy truffle (Tuber aestivum Vitt., syn. T. uncinatum Ch.) and the Périgord black truffle (T. melanosporum Vitt., Fig. 1b). These common names (Burgundy truffle and Périgord black truffle) are derived from the names of two of the many regions in France where they are famous. Though native to Europe, there is great interest in expanding the cultivated range of both of these species.
Each of these two truffle species has unique life cycle features and characteristic habitat requirements. Although the retail price of Périgord black truffles is roughly twice that of Burgundy truffles, Périgord truffles mature during the winter and are destroyed if they thaw in the ground after having frozen solid. In contrast, Burgundy truffles mature mainly in late autumn, before danger of the soil freezing.
In addition, the Burgundy truffle fungus can produce higher yields per acre, perhaps because it typically grows in the shade of denser stands of trees. Denser stands of trees also serve to more effectively filter and cleanse groundwater (for example, Allen et al. 2004).
The recently discovered nitrogen fixation activities of truffles (see “The Burgundy truffle as a ectomycorhizal fungus,” below) places them in the company of legume nodules as agents of soil improvement (Barbieri et al. 2010).

Johann Bruhn
Michelle Hall
University of Missouri