Truffles, Farmer

LOOK: An octogenarian farmer and a surprising spot in SA where he’s producing truffles

Only shrubs grew naturally in the sandy acid soil that farmer Volker Miros chose as a site to test the potential for truffle production in South Africa.

2021-08-04 04:09:00 PM

Volker Miros, 81, who picked mushrooms with his grandfather as a child in Germany, is a pioneer of South Africa's budding truffle cultivation industry. truffles farmer

Only shrubs grew naturally in the sandy acid soil that farmer Volker Miros chose as a site to test the potential for truffle production in South Africa.

"The same thing needs to be looked at 35 degrees south" - where the family farm lies around 1 100 metres above sea level, he said.Miros, 81, who picked mushrooms with his grandfather as a child in Germany, is a pioneer of South Africa's budding truffle cultivation industry.

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In 2009, he imported spores of the French Perigord variety - touted as the"black diamond" of the culinary world - and used them to inoculate the roots of oak seedlings that were then planted in the area.After six years of trial and error, and tonnes of calcitic lime to counter the soil's acidity, the first truffles were finally unearthed.

A plate of Black Winter Perigord truffles in the kitchen on the family farm. Picture: Rodger Bosch/AFPToday the family is South Africa's number one Perigord grower and supplier, with almost 100 hectares (250 acres) of truffle orchards planted not only in the Cederberg region but also in other pockets of the country with similar climates. headtopics.com

The most prolific of the orchards yields close to 10 kilograms of truffles per hectare each season, which spans South Africa's coldest months from June to August."We were the crazy farmers on top of the mountain," Miros's son Paul chuckled, squinting in the winter sunlight as he looked over neat rows of inoculated oak trees and shrubs surrounded by snowy peaks.

A dog sat obediently by his side, having recently uncovered a tuber the size of a tennis ball.Paul Miros of Woodford Truffles, searches with his dog, Baccio, an Italian Lagotto Romagnolo breed, commonly used for truffle-hunting, on the family farm,. Picture: Rodger Bosch/AFP

The highest quality Miros truffle sells for R20 000per kilo this year, almost at par with the European market rates.Most buyers are local high-end restaurants that have only recently started to incorporate the delicacy into their dishes. Read more: IOL News »

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