Phase 2: Burgundy Truffle Orchard Establishment - The Burgundy Truffle as a new sustainable agro-forestry crop for Missouri

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2012: $7,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Nicola Hellmuth
Ozark Forest Mushrooms, LLC

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, biological inoculants, irrigation
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism, marketing management, value added
  • Pest Management: mulching - vegetative
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil microbiology
  • Sustainable Communities: employment opportunities, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Phase 2 builds directly on the results of Phase 1 by testing methods of Truffle Orchard establishment and management, focusing on maintenance of high available Ca levels (? 3,000 ppm, personal communication between Dr. Gerard Chevalier and Dr. Bruhn), judicious suppression of weeds, and development of a deep, well-branched, lateral root system. An objective is to encourage deeper formation of mycorrhizas, and thus deeper development of truffles. Deeper truffles will be less vulnerable to insect damage, early frost damage, and sunscald. Tools to be tested include: targeted use (within 1-m radius of Truffle Trees) of an organic contact herbicide such as Avenger®, water-permeable weed barrier fabric, and/or soil amendment with organic mulch, coupled with early spring aeration. Soils will be tested again for available Ca in spring 2012, and any necessary and/or test amendments will be made at that time. Organic mulch will be derived from the High-Ca milfoil lake weed infestation on OFM’s property. When the lake weed is harvested, dried and ground it produces a peat moss like bedding material encrusted with lime that should be ideal for weed suppression while providing additional Ca. During late spring 2012, we will also incorporate white oak wood chips derived from “spent” shiitake substrate logs or processed lake weed into the upper 20-cm of soil along randomly selected rows of the 10 East-West rows of the plantation, to raise both the organic matter content and the cation exchange capacity of the soil. A well will be drilled adjacent to the Truffle Orchard to provide for drip irrigation of the Truffle Trees, both to ensure initial survival of the valuable Truffle Seedlings and eventually to ensure survival of juvenile Burgundy Truffle mushroom through dry summer periods. Due to the number of deer in the area, a deer exclusion fence will also be constructed around the test plot to prevent browsing damage. Truffle Seedlings will be produced by Forrest Keeling Nursery (Ellsberry, MO) using the patented RPM® process to grow 100 bur oak and 100 English x swamp white oak seedlings from acorns collected in Dr. Bruhn’s research orchard. These oak selections have demonstrated good growth on high pH soils. Seedlings will be inoculated by Dr. Bruhn in the field at the time of planting using vermiculite as carrier for spores of the Swedish source of Burgundy Truffle. Because this represents a novel application of RPM seedlings, FKN is producing the seedlings at no cost to the project. Seedlings will be spaced 2.5-m apart along East-West rows, with 5-m between rows, to facilitate early development of mid-day shading. In this manner, 19 trees will be planted in 10 rows, leaving a 2.5-m buffer of amended soil beyond edge trees. A single row and column of trees along the edge of the plantation will serve as a truffle-inoculated buffer surrounding experimental treatments.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Assessment will include follow-up early spring and late autumn soil testing to evaluate treatment effects on available Ca and organic matter levels. In the event that foliar nutrient deficiency symptoms develop, foliar samples will be analyzed and appropriate nutrients will be applied as foliar sprays.

    To add to the extensive Photo Documentation already underway during Phase 1, additional documentation will include:

    - Results of all Soil Testing
    - Bed Preparation prior to planting seedlings
    - Seedling Inoculation and Planting
    - Application of Weed Suppression, Soil Aeration and Organic Matter treatments
    - Drip Irrigation System for orchard watering
    - Deer Fence for seedling protection

    Once the orchard has been planted, treatment effects on truffle mycorrhiza proliferation will be evaluated annually by Dr. Bruhn, based on abundance of Burgundy Truffle mycorrhizas in the upper 10-cm and 20-cm of soil, as determined by microscopic examination with sub-sampling for molecular confirmation. Production of commercially significant volumes of truffles once the orchard reaches bearing age will be the ultimate evaluation of the success of the project.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.