UCCE scientist is researching Perigord truffle cultivation in Placerville

Apr 2, 2020

UC Cooperative Extension advisor Scott Oneto and retired insurance executive Staci O'Toole are researching conditions in a Placerville hazelnut orchard that best support the production of highly prized Perigord truffles, reported Becky Grunewald in the Sacramento Bee.

“Whether this will be the next big commodity in California? I would love to say yes, but that goes with a lot of hesitancy and uncertainty," Oneto said. "There's a ton of things we need to figure out to make this industry successful.”

O'Toole had asked Oneto for assistance.

“When I have a farmer or rancher who is presented with problems, whether it be a new pest, weed, pathogen, or the effects of climate change, we help them solve those problems so they can continue to be successful in agriculture,” Oneto said.

During a sabbatical leave, Oneto researched scientific literature about truffle cultivation. Last spring, he and O'Toole set out an experiment in four plots of her hazelnut orchard to compare different growing conditions, with varying levels of moisture, shade, pH and soil amendment.

The hazelnut trees were planted, pre-inoculated with truffle mycelium, over a decade ago by the former ranch owner. The trees are all the same age, same variety, and same condition, making the location ideal for scientific investigation.

O'Toole is keeping close track of truffle production in the orchard, the article said. In time, Oneto hopes to publish the results of their experiment in a peer-reviewed journal to help other would-be truffle growers.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist