Rice, beans, cotton, and corn are staple farm crops around Region 8, now a Warm Springs, Arkansas man is looking to add a new crop: European Black Truffles.
"Truffles are something that's hard to grow, but worth a lot of money if you can establish your orchard," said truffier Stuart Davis. "They are not native to north America and are usually grown in Europe and imported to the U.S. They can fetch between $800 and $1,000 dollars a pound in the marketplace. When my orchard is in full swing I hope to produce 75 pounds an acre."
A truffle is a hydrogenous fungus that grows in the ground and is used by high end chefs in flavoring exotic food dishes. In order for them to grow in the U.S., hazelnut and oak tree seedlings are inoculated with the black truffle and planted in extremely acidic soil. Usually within 2-4 years the truffles will start to develop in the soil underneath the trees.
"I've got 10 trees right now and I hope to produce at least 10-20 pounds of truffles in next year's harvest and will be planting another 100 trees this year," said Davis. In 5 to 7 years hope I will be able to reap the real rewards of 75 pounds an acre."
To harvest the crop, truffle farmers need some help digging up crop, so Davis went to the county shelter and found Daisy. He's spent hours training Daisy to hunt up the truffles and so far she seems to working well. A European trained truffle dog can cost as much as $15,000.