'Worst season in 14 years' - Struggles continue for truffle growers

'Worst season in 14 years' - Struggles continue for truffle growers

Significantly more wet weather than usual during truffle season, particularly in the North Island has seen truffle growers only able to harvest around half of their yield for the second consecutive year.

Lisa Williams from Tresillian Truffles in Canterbury said that while the South Island had less wet weather and a similar yield to 2022, they still faced a challenging season in 2023.

"We did have slightly larger and more consistently sized truffles this year but where we came unstuck was we ended up having rain at night, followed by frost all in the same 12 hours and that's been our challenge," she said.

The North Island, however, which saw significant rainfall throughout the season, didn't fare so well.

"Some people who have done a lot of truffling in the North Island this season, very experienced truffling people, they reckon it is the worst season they have seen in 14 years.

"Solely because the ground is so wet."

Truffles which are roughly 80% water and 20% fibre, struggle when waterlogged Williams said, although she admitted that rotting truffles can have a positive effect on the following season.

"Those truffles can then rot down into the ground, that then encourages more micronisation to happen in the soil, therefore in the following season, you will hopefully end up with more truffles because you've got more micronisation happening in the soil.

"That's definitely what we are finding here."

Williams has been able to collect truffles that are not up to consumer standards and after running them through a food processor, is redistributing them around the trees she picks from to increase micronisation, with the hope that will improve a greater yield next season.

"We did that two years ago to every second tree in our truffière.

"If you can visualise a seam of gold going through the soil, that is what I have got with micronisation going through the truffière at the moment.

"Next season we are going to have an amazing season because we've got basically an inch thick of micronisation going through the truffière from roots to roots."

With expectations that next year's season is going to be predominantly hot and dry, Williams is optimistic about seeing an improvement on yield numbers across the country.

Listen to the full chat between Lisa Williams from Tresillian Truffles and Dominic George above.

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