It’s Christmas. Truffle growers in Israel? Cultivation of the desert truffle – IsraelValley

Truffle growers in Israel? Researchers in the Negev have successfully cultivated a truffle in the desert. Farmers will soon be able to grow the much-needed mushroom and bring it to market.

The desert truffle has little to do with the traditional truffle, which belongs to the genus Tuber. Culinarily, those in the genus Tuber are eaten as a spice for their excellent flavor, and are very rare. In contrast, desert truffles are more numerous and have the same flavor and aroma as any edible mushroom.

Terfesse, terfèze, terfez, terfès, terfass or terifass also known as sand truffle or desert truffle are trade names for edible species of hypogeal mushrooms related to the truffle.

ACCORDING to (1): “It’s not oily but it looks like it! At the Ramat Hanegev Agricultural Research and Development Station, researchers made a breakthrough in growing desert truffles, which cost between 300 and 800 shekels per kilogram ($100 and $200 per kilogram). The underground mushroom Terfezia leonis grows in symbiosis with the roots of the “Samson” plant (Helianthemum sessiliflorum) which provides the sugars needed for the truffle. The latter, in turn, provides the plant’s roots with important minerals and especially phosphorus.

Until now, the truffle is very popular in all the countries of the Mediterranean basin. But since there is no cultural demand for truffles in the Middle East, they are harvested from wild fields. The Bedouins sometimes harvest them, randomly. The novelty is the discovery of symbiosis between these two plants that allows systematic cultivation. The first harvest is carried out in the middle of the desert. Now, the farmers are waiting for the second harvest.

Inventing a new agricultural and luxury export industry for Israel

Ofer Gaï, the head of research at Ramat Hanegev explains: “We hope that thanks to suitable and systematic work, we will soon be able to produce crops of tens of kilos. we have, in fact, invented a new agriculture and luxury export industry for Israel.”

Ramat Hanegev Regional Council Chairman Eran Doron is optimistic: “We continue to realize Ben-Gurion’s vision and make the desert bloom. Our farmers continue to discover its hidden treasures and its potential. Today the Negev is a technological, economic and even technological powerhouse. »

All for the researchers, remember that from one year to the next, the desert truffle can be made in the same plots in a systematic way. If this is the case, its cultivation and marketing can begin next year… A godsend”.


ACCORDING TO CAPITAL MAGAZINE. “”The volumes are not there”: truffle growers in the south of the Drôme have seen their production drop this year due to the drought, while their biggest sales are made for the holidays.

“With the drought we have experienced, I think we will reach -60% of the production volume at the end of the season”, specified Saturday to AFP Hervé Jardin, the president of the black truffle union Tricastin-Pays. Grignan-Enclave des Papes (south of the Drôme) and administrator at the French Federation of truffle growers (FFT).

About 50 tons on average of “tuber melanosporum” or black truffles are sold every year in the territory. This year, their harvest season opened on November 15 and will close on March 15.

But “the volumes are not there”, laments Mr. Jardin, citing the first numbers from producers in the region.

Whether in the markets of Grignan (Drôme), Villefranche (Rhône) or even Lyon, the spleen of the professionals is palpable. The rarity of the product is also explosive in its price.

He offers his black truffles, which he has to water “drop by drop every day because of the drought”, at “130 euros per 100 grams”. A higher price to compensate for the shortage.

Weighing a black truffle at the market of Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux (Drôme), December 23, 2022 (AFP – OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE)

“At retail, we this year are between 1,200 and 1,400 euros per kilo due to the lack of truffles in our sector against 800-900 euros in the same period with a normal peak at 1,000 euros at Christmas”, explained again Hervé Jardin. .

“Since we only have about 10% of truffle growers who can irrigate, the impact is direct on our sector,” he added.

In addition to the drought, there was a change in rainfall with “400 mm of water” falling from September to December, meaning “seasonal rainfall of a normal year” which caused 80 to 90 % of truffles that are “not good, not mature or rotten” for some of their harvest.

A stand selling black truffles at the Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux (Drôme) market, December 23, 2022 (AFP - OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE)
A stand selling black truffles at the market of Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux (Drôme), December 23, 2022 (AFP – OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE)

The thaw has also released leiodes, small beetles “that make holes in the truffles”, refers to Mr. Jardin, who is hoping for the return of cold in January and February to see them leave and to complete the ripening of truffles.

In 2021, more than 40 tons of black truffles were produced in France, which has almost 8,000 truffle growers, including about 1,000 south of the Drôme, according to the same source.

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