Manji truffle farmers expecting ‘bumper crop’ this season

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Truffle and Wine Co. head of sales Alex Wilson welcomes the start of the 2020 truffle season, mentioning his enthusiasm for the haul and concerns for international freight.
Camera IconTruffle and Wine Co. head of sales Alex Wilson welcomes the start of the 2020 truffle season, mentioning his enthusiasm for the haul and concerns for international freight. Credit: Tari Jeffers

Manjimup’s $10 million truffle industry is experiencing a slow start this season due to wet weather and freight uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

Despite the slow start, major producers are reporting no fears for the quality of truffles being produced in 2020, only the freight limitations they are expecting.

Moisture in the ground keeps the ground warmer, according to Manjimup Truffles owner Al Blakers, which makes the truffles grow slower and results in a slower start to the season.

A tennis ball-sized truffle found at Australian Truffle Traders last year.
Camera IconA tennis ball-sized truffle found at Australian Truffle Traders last year. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times/Tari Jeffers, Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

Truffle and Wine Co. head of sales Alex Wilson, pictured, said the phone had been ringing off the hook because people were trying to make sure they could get truffles.

“It’s not about how much, they’re asking if they can get it at all,” he said.

“That’s a very warming feeling, as opposed to everything being terrible.

The demand is there and I wouldn’t say we’re punching for the skies, but as the season starts ticking off, we’re seeing demand despite COVID-19.

Alex Wilson

Mr Wilson said the Manjimup truffle industry, worth about $8 to $10 million at farm gate value, would be affected by the limited freight capability this year.

“It has been tricky, but everyone in the industry is looking at different options for freight.”

Manjimup truffle farmer Al Blakers.
Camera IconManjimup truffle farmer Al Blakers. Credit: IAIN GILLESPIE/WA News, IAIN GILLESPIE

Mr Blakers said he had not experienced a May as wet as this year in the whole time he had been in the industry.

“During the situation in the world, that’s good,” he said.

We’re rapt in the quality of our truffles this year, which is as much to do with management practices.

Al Blakers

“Everybody is asking where they can get truffle which is good, but shipping is a tad difficult and we can get it to most places, but not how we used to.”

Mr Blakers said he was a lot more confident in the season than he was six weeks ago, when he had no idea what was going to happen. Stonebarn Truffles owner Dion Range said he was also a lot more optimistic than he was six weeks ago.

The good news is that our truffle harvest is going to be a bumper crop, we’re only two days into harvest and it’s already looking better than we’ve ever had before.

Al Blakers

“We haven’t tested the market really yet, but there is a lot more interest than there was six weeks ago.”

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