This time a year ago I resigned from my day job at Hiking New Zealand (couldn’t resist a plug for a fantastic company if you enjoy hiking and the active outdoors both in New Zealand and beyond!) to become a full time, professional truffle grower! There have been some unexpected twists and turns both positive and negative. An overseas trip to France then the USA, a 5 hectare development in Port Levy to get underway and planted, the death of a great mentor, supporter and friend who happened to also be a director of Kings Truffles, a new tunnel house facility built and then filled with truffle trees, a new truffle dog to train, meeting many new faces into the truffle industry as well as meeting the original faces. Also breaking news when I went to update my ACC, “Truffle Grower” is now an official occupation, pity I was starting to quite enjoy listing myself as a “Truffle Nutter” on forms! Thanks to everyone for making the first year an exciting one, looking forward to what the next one has installed for myself, Kings Truffles and the New Zealand truffle industry as a whole.
Limited Partnership Truffle Development
It has been a year of planning and prepartion but the development in Port Levy is actually starting to look like a truffiere.
A great site, it is 5 hectares of a perfectly North facing site with a gentle slope on it (though I have had to kick the tractor into 4WD a few times!), free draining soil, well established shelter belts and the cherry on top – the rights to a lot of water for irrigation.
Cattle have been grazing it for the past few years, yet there was still some grass growth to compete with. The year has allowed us to really observe the nature of the block and how it fares in each season and adjust our plans accordingly. After several lime applications at different times in the past year, some further fencing, irrigation plans altered after 19inches fell in one night resulting in a flooded stream and a lot more grazing both by cattle and sheep, we were able to really get stuck in the past few months.
There has been mowing with the tractor, marking rows (and subsequently getting a little light headed with spray paint), mowing again with a lower level on the ride on mower to form the rows, cultivation, and finally the planting has started.
Slowly the tunnel house is emptying of trees as I plant, weed mat, stake and guard the trees. Only 2250 trees to plant…
The weather is creating a glass that is both half empty and half full depending on what time of day you talk to me; not great working condidtions for myslef but the trees are looking great.
Now that the month is coming to an end we are nearing completion of our autumn planting thanks to a bit of slave labor. We will now need to start thinking about mowing again as the trees are not the only thing enjoying the wet weather and warm days. Keep watching this space for updates in the future!
Now, to change the mind set for amping up the dog training and starting to hunt out the black gold this winter season!