Neiker-Tecnalia proposes extending the cultivation of the black truffle to areas planted with oak trees

12 November 2015

NEIKER-Tecnalia proposes extending the cultivation of the black truffle to areas planted with oak trees

En el marco del congreso anual que se está celebrando en Gante (Bélgica), la Dra. Eva Ugarte, directora de Innovación y Tecnología de NEIKER, ha sido reconocida con el Distinguished Service Award por la European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP).

In order to promote the cultivation and improvement of the quality of the black truffle (Tuber melanosporum), NEIKER-Tecnalia, is currently working on a map showing the areas of the Basque County with a greater potential for developing truffle farming.

Among the preliminary conclusions of the project, the researchers are advocating extending black truffle cultivation to areas populated with European white oak trees, so the area devoted to this crop could practically be doubled.

Traditionally, the black truffle has been associated with holm oaks, but the Portuguese oak tree (Quercus faginea) turns out to be an oak highly suited to its cultivation, according to the preliminary results obtained by the NEIKER-Tecnalia researchers. The use of the Portuguese oak tree also offers the potential to extend the cultivation to a large part of the territory of the BAC-Basque Autonomous Community, where this species is the dominant vegetation.

The process to cultivate the black truffle starts by applying the spores of this fungus to the roots of seedlings (trees in the early growing phase) of holm oak trees, oak trees or other species. The seedlings remain in the greenhouse developing the association with the fungus until they have reached a suitable size to be planted outside. When the tree is between six and eight years old, it can start to be productive and develop truffles in its roots.

The abundance in the Basque Autonomous Community of chalky soils planted with oak trees encourages the production of the black truffle, highly appreciated by leading gourmets. This product has a great potential for rural and forestry development, in particular, in the area of Araba-Alava. It also constitutes an excellent complementary activity to enhance and diversify traditional agricultural and forestry enterprises. Its cultivation also fulfils an important ecological function, since it contributes toward preserving the birdlife and encourages reforestation with autochthonous species.