First and foremost truffle production is NOT a guaranteed outcome when purchasing an inoculated seedling tree. There are many factors which lead to the success or failure of truffle cultivation. Truffle growing must therefore be regarded as high risk. However it has a proven potential to offer high returns to diligent and dedicated growers.
NZTA has prepared a guide for buying truffle inoculated trees. The guide is available in the members’ section of this website and should be read alongside the many other publications which are available on site selection, site preparation, looking after your trees and minimising threats.
It is important that you understand the process & time frames for buying trees. Do your homework, obtain details and ask questions of nurseries. You wouldn’t want to find out several years later that the trees you planted were not properly inoculated with truffle spores of the desired species. NZTA has produced a National Standard for Inoculated Seedlings and this is available to NZTA members from our website. Below are some specific things to look for;
What should I want in a Seedling?
- Inoculated (infected) seedlings should be healthy
- Seedlings should have a stated infection level (tested to a known standard or method – ask for a copy from the nurseryman)
- The seedlings should be affordable (usually what you pay, is what you get – some quality aspects add cost)
- The seedlings should have a known DNA tested inoculum. You can test for the presence of good and bad infections, you will not get results for what you don’t test for.
What Do I Not Want?
- Competing fungi on my plants, for example, fungi such as Tuber brumale, AD fungi and Thelephora; or known pathogens which might kill the fungus or tree. The testing method should give you confidence.
- Inferior infection levels (ask for a statement of levels – ask your mycologist for recommended minimum infection levels)
- The wrong host plant for my specific growing conditions
What Should I Ask the Nursery Person?
- How to care for my seedling
- Recommended planting tips
- Replacement for failed seedlings (will you replace any which die –if yes, what percentage?)
- How should I care for my fungi (the tree is the host, the fungi grow on the roots)
National Standard for Inoculated Seedlings
The National Standard was developed by an experienced New Zealand mycorrhiza scientist and reviewed by a European peer. New Zealand nurseries and a DNA testing company also provided input. For best results, purchasers of inoculated seedlings should ask for their seedlings to be independently tested against the benchmark quality criteria in the Standard.
The full Standard can be obtained from the New Zealand Truffle Association. Here is a summary of the requirements. Find out more information in the Members area.