Monday, April 14, 2008

A truffle tree of your very own?

Anyone who has priced real truffles in the past few years has had sticker shock that makes gasoline prices seem reasonable. And it has become worse as the dollar skids in value on the international market. Last year they were as much as $3000 per pound on the retail market.

So why not adopt a truffle tree of your own? Risky, yes, but the potential rewards could be enough to seduce truffle-lovers who can affort the investment. Perhaps.

An enterprise in Gascony, France, has planted several hundred trees and is offering an adoption plan. You get your very own tree, and once (or if) it begins producing truffles, they are all yours, to keep or to sell on the open market. You get a picture of your tree, and can visit it any time you like.

The $64,000 question: When will the first truffles appear? How many? Some say as early as year three. Dr Khanaqa, a leading truffle expert, suggests between 150g and 450g per tree in year four, after which it should build up over the next twenty five to thirty years. A more conservative outlook goes with the majority view that harvesting should begin between five and nine years from planting. But truffles are unpredictable. One tree may produce a bumper crop while its neighbour does little or nothing. It’s this area of uncertainty that makes the whole concept intriguing.

For more information, or to adopt a tree of your very own, you can visit the truffière website.

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