Truffle growing and the truffle industry

What is truffle growing?

Living in association with a tree, the truffle is a fungus of the Tuber family that grows underground. The exchanges that take place between the truffle and the tree at the level of its roots (water, sugar, mineral salts…) are characteristic of a close and long-lasting association with mutual benefit called mycorrhizal symbiosis.

Trufficulture is a cultural practice that consists of planting young trees called “mycorhized”, that is to say, having been previously inoculated with truffles in their roots. This inoculation is practiced in nurseries and is called“controlled mycorrhization“. The resulting planting must be carried out under specific conditions and according to the requirements of the desired Tuberspecies.

Production of mycorrhizal plants by AGRI-TRUFFE nurseries (left) and young truffle field in Charente (right)

Why truffle growing?

Truffle growing represents a diversification opportunity for farmers. Often too little known, we want to make it accessible through training. It can thus be practiced in association with other crops in agro-forestry.

Promoting the cultivation of truffles is also promoting an agro-ecological culture, which does not require chemical inputs and requires a reasonable amount of water compared to other crops. We are thus militating in favor of the reduction of phytosanitary products and of a reasoned management ofirrigation.

Truffle growing represents a lever for the development of the territory and for tourism with a strong potential. To make cultivate the truffle is indeed a very good means to maintain an activity in an area in agricultural depression, to fight against the rural exodus and to allow the installation ofAgro-tourism.

From an environmental point of view, the truffle fields are excellent biological reservoirs favoring biodiversity. They contribute to thedevelopment of the territory and allow the valorization of poor lands.

And because the truffle is a mushroom both very appreciated by gastronomy for its organoleptic qualities, but also by scientists because of its complex biology…

How is the truffle industry organized?

In France, the number of truffle growers is estimated at 20,000, of which about 5,000 are members of a truffle growers’ union or association. These departmental unions are grouped into 7 Regional Federations, which themselves belong to the French Federation of Truffle Growers of which Michel Tournayre is the president.
At the European level, there are two institutions grouping together the Federations of different countries: the GETT (Groupement Européen Truffe et Trufficulture) and the CRETT (Consortium en Réseau Européen Truffe et Trufficulture).

In France, the annual turnover of the truffle industry was estimated in 2005 at about 150 million EuroThis figure is certainly underestimated, considering the sale of truffles but also everything that is related to the truffle, such as mycorrhizal plants, processed products, tourism … a figure that is certainly strongly underestimated.
In Europe, this turnover is around one billion Euro per year.

The truffle industry has a strong potential for development since truffle growing is a crop recognized by the European Union, opening the right to aid from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) .

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