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Truffles are a species of mushroom that will grow on farmland, and bring big profits if successful.
Truffles have a symbiotic relationship with trees, but since they grow underground, they depend on animals to disperse their spores and emit powerful aromas to attract the animals. It’s those intense, attractive aromas that can also make them irresistible to humans – and expensive.
Charles LeFevre is the owner of New World Truffieres in Eugene, Oregon. He says there are truffle species to fit nearly every climate in the United States. Good places to start growing them are in pasture and hay fields. Inoculated truffle trees are then planted in orchards much like those for fruits and nuts.
"Under ideal circumstances and a well-managed orchard that sits on a good site, we expect truffles in five years. But, if the farmer lets the weeds go, or ignores the pests, or ignores problems like that, doesn’t water enough, any of those things will cause years of delay," says LeFevre.
There is one important piece of harvesting equipment you’ll need – a dog that is trained to find truffles by the smell.
"Let’s say you have an acre of trees. Maybe that’s 150 or 300 trees, something like that. In year five when you’re expecting your first truffles, there might just be one truffle, and it could be under any of those trees so the dog’s job is to locate that truffle. Even when you’re at full production, maybe you’re getting 35 pounds of truffles per-acre, that might be, say, 350 truffles," he says. "They’re scattered far and wide and they don’t all ripen at the same time."
Different species sell for different prices, but the most coveted truffles will sell for $900 per-pound.Learn more about truffle farming