A common question we are asked when helping people establish truffle orchards is whether truffle trees can survive periods of heavy rain and episodes of flooding, with the main concern being, that alongside damage to the tree roots, prolonged exposure to water will inhibit or even destroy the truffle mycorrhiza. Indeed, when we are assessing the suitability of sites to grow truffles in the UK, soil drainage is one of the most important considerations for whether the location is a suitable site for a truffle plantation. Our advice is to avoid areas prone to becoming waterlogged and to always plant in areas that are free draining. Soil drainage is linked to many important variables, such as soil texture, how different tree species grow, development of truffle mycorrhiza and truffle production quantity and quality. However, we have been undertaking research into how water immersion specifically affects tree ectomycorrhiza for several years and now some of Professor Paul Thomas’s (Our MD and Scientific Manager) preliminary findings have been published. 

Can truffle trees survive flooding and heavy rain?

Can truffle trees survive flooding and heavy rain?

A common question we are asked when helping people establish truffle orchards is whether truffle trees can survive periods of heavy rain and episodes of flooding, with the main concern being, that alongside damage to the tree roots, prolonged exposure to water will inhibit or even destroy the truffle mycorrhiza. Indeed, when we are assessing the suitability of sites to grow truffles in the UK, soil drainage is one of the most important considerations for whether the location is a suitable site for a truffle plantation. Our advice is to avoid areas prone to becoming waterlogged and to always plant in areas that are free draining. Soil drainage is linked to many important variables, such as soil texture, how different tree species grow, development of truffle mycorrhiza and truffle production quantity and quality, so it is an important factor for us to consider. However, we have been undertaking research into how water immersion specifically affects tree ectomycorrhiza for several years and now some of Professor Paul Thomas’s (Our MD and Scientific Manager) preliminary findings have been published. 

The study was based on understanding how long truffle tree ectomycorrhiza can survive in flooded conditions - in particular, it was the UK native summer truffle (Tuber aestivum syn. uncinatum) that was analysed as part of the experiment. In truffle literature, it is often claimed that truffle mycorrhiza can tolerate submersion for '14 days and no more' but with flood events increasing in frequency, we thought we'd put this to the test! As part of the experiment oak tree saplings with the summer truffle mycorrhiza were flooded from 7 to 65 days. The findings revealed that contrary to what’s widely accepted, after a full 65 days of total submersion, healthy mycorrhiza were still evident on the tree roots! Further to this, another interesting finding that we’re often asked about, was that the size of the saplings had no correlation to the quantity of truffle mycorrhiza on the tree roots.

Whilst we still recommend planting in areas with good drainage, as this study proves that water submersion for as little as 7 days does have a negative effect on the number of the truffle mycorrhiza, for our truffle growers this research should be reassuring that if unforeseen flood events do occur then recovery is possible.  

Full details of these surprising results, statistics and discussion of the wider implications to not only truffle farmers but woodland initiatives in general have now been published in this free open access article:

 

https://doi.org/10.1007/s00572-021-01035-4  

If you are interested in purchasing truffle trees to establish your own plantation, you can find more information on our Truffle Trees and Consultancy page about what we offer. You can also contact us with details of your location and we will assess your suitability without any obligation.

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