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Nut Connoisseurs

Native Truffles

Truffles are subterranian fungi that grow as mycorrhizal symbionts on tree roots. They aid the plants in the uptake of nutrients from the soil in exchange for carbohydrates from the plant. They also provide some weed reduction services as they secrete chemicals that inhibits the growth of competing plants. The truffle fungus forms fragrant tuber-like reproductive fruit bodies that are relished by wildlife. Native European truffles are prized in French and Italian cooking and can attain astronomical prices. While little known, native truffles occur in the United States. One species, Tuber lyonii, is known as the Pecan truffle as it was first discovered in the soils of pecan groves. Despite its name it can also grow in symbiosis with hickory, hazelnut, chestnut, and oak. A second rarer and more prized truffle is the Appalachain truffle. It grows on a similar range of host trees. Truffle symbiosis with nut trees provides a fantastic co-cropping opportunity and may provide early income in groves of trees like hickory, which may take a long time to bear nuts. While some have practiced the cultivation of European truffles, the cultivation of American truffles is in its infancy. Additionally, early efforts to cultivate truffles utilized non-food hosts such as oaks and pine seedlings. We are excited about the potential to grow truffles in concert with clonal nut trees. To this end we are inoculating our nursery stock with Pecan and Appalachain truffle spores.

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