He and his team succeeded where others failed thanks to their willingness to experiment with the type of truffle, the type of tree, and a secret inoculation mix that Isikhuemhen said came to him in a dream. With this blend, he was able to generate around 200 pounds of truffles in 2019 for a producer in Warren County, gaining industry attention around the world.
Now he and his team are working to build on that success.
“Our goal is for North Carolina to become the largest truffle-producing state in the country,” Isikhuemhen said.
Truffles are found underground near tree roots, like an underground mushroom. But unlike this biological cousin, it’s not always clear when, or if, they are present. Dogs, or in some countries pigs, can smell them because of the aroma they produce. Described as “earthy, spicy, musky” thanks to the pheromones and other compounds they produce, it is the aroma that sells the truffle, even more than the taste.
Often grown from trees whose roots have been intentionally inoculated with truffle spores, truffles can take five to nine years to start producing.
According to experts, setting up a truffle orchard can cost $ 25,000 an acre. Even then, there is no guarantee of a successful harvest.