FE520 Interesting Talk in BC

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    Alana McGee

    Here is something for Sunday morning – the video talks a lot about truffles in BC, but I learned a lot about truffles in general, specifically orchards and the difficulty associated with growing truffles commercially in non-native locations.

    Also, I was super surprised to learn how much is unknown!


    Alana McGee

    Thanks Shannon! I enjoyed it over a cup of tea while it rains. It was a good presentation and each time I learn a little more about some aspect of truffles.

    Alana McGee

    That is our lovely colleague Dr. Shannon Berch! Nice find Shannon. I forgot this was on youtube! For anyone who is interested she will be giving another talk on truffles and state of the industry on Vancouver Island in Feb. It should be an interesting series. She is also speaking at OTF about the Canadian Orchards and what has been going on this year. Let me know and I can dig up the info on when and where etc.

    Since she gave this talk we actually found cultivated perigord and Burgundy truffles in Canada. In March and July 2013 respectively for each species. It was the first perigord in Canada and the first cultivated Burgundy Truffles in all of North America! Very exciting stuff. Proof of concept!

    I have attached the picture of that first Perigord and the farms where they were produced so you can begin to see an idea of the differences in orchards (or for those of you in Europe- what some lightly managed wild sites may look like). We have permission from these farmers to share these photos with you for this purpose.

    In this photo Lo is taking a break. Notice the br?l?e area around the base of the hazel and the oak in the background. Eventhough the tree is teeny that is not necessarily an indication of mycorrhizal growth. Br?l?es are a good indication of mycorrhizal activity, but are not evidence of truffles themselves. However, for those of you in the UK looking on wild birch, beech and oak, and you Rachel when you are looking on non fir/pine sites, this kind of br?l?e is a good indication of areas to focus your search. This is a natural br?l?e. Remember this applies to European Species being cultivated or wild European species in grassy habitats- not our native species in the PNW. Pecan truffles also do this if given the same kind of grassy habitat.

    The 1st Perigord grown in Canada.

    That Orchard the following Spring. Dandelions!


    Lo on that Burgundy Farm & Br?l?e


    Alana McGee

    Wonderful follow up to the video, Alana – thanks! The br?l?e areas are really visible in that final photo.

    I’ve been thinking about the difficulties of being able to differentiate between certain truffle types and all the problems associated with inoculating the trees with the wrong truffle species. I was curious as to whether a dog would be able to reliably differentiate between the species – does anyone know if this has been tried?

    Alana McGee

    We are in works with some german scientists (and Shannon Berch) to do grant work on isolating VOCs and running test/ labs experiments on various VOCs to see what it is exactly the dogs actually are indicating on because no purely scientific data has been published on the subject. It is something, personally, I am very interested in. As you know everything involving grants moves very very very slowly.

    You can train to a dog to differentiate yes, or be selective via slowly limiting criteria and discrimination. Some dogs do this naturally and are some hyper specific, and you could perform it as a match to source game much like you would for tracking.

    We actually talk about this in FE530, but it is an advanced skill as you are pairing down and selecting only for VOCs of species you want.

    Some folks in Europe do this regularly in regards to the alba truffle (Tuber magnatum). They only want their dogs to find the very very expensive white truffles and don?t care about anything else, and so don?t reward for anything else. Thus, the dog learns, only white truffles receive a reward.

    If you are talking about asking a dog to ? Find Burgundy? and then it brings one back, and then ?Find Oregon Black? etc, yes it?s possible, but that would likely be best taught as a match to source game.

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