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Idaho truffle grower sees expanding harvests

Paul Beckman looks for truffles on his Eagle property, Bella Vista Farms, with his three dogs. Beckman has planted 12 acres with hundreds of oak, hazelnut, pecan and walnut trees, all inoculated with the fungi that grow truffles. Photo by Patrick Sweeney.

Paul Beckman looks for truffles on his Eagle property, Bella Vista Farms, in Fall 2013 with his three dogs. Beckman has planted 12 acres with hundreds of oak, hazelnut, pecan and walnut trees, all inoculated with the fungi that grow truffles. Photo by Patrick Sweeney.

Idaho’s leading truffle grower harvested a large crop this spring.

Paul Beckman of Eagle, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, has planted 12 acres with hundreds of oak, hazelnut, pecan and walnut trees. The trees are inoculated with the fungi that grow truffles.

Beckman, who has been trying to produce truffles since 2008, knows of about a dozen people who are trying to grow truffles in Idaho. But so far, the only truffles that have been found have been on Beckman’s property. Truffles are tubers between the size of a golf ball and a baseball of fungi that grow underground on tree roots. They sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars per pound. They’re often found with special truffle-hunting dogs.

Beckman harvested his first truffle in 2012. Last year, he found 50. This year, Beckman harvested about 130 Bianchetto truffles. He hasn’t yet gone into business.

“I sold a couple, ate a lot, and donated a few to an Asheville, N.C., restaurant for a charity event,” Beckman said this month. “Also many were given to my mentors to reward their help.  Hopefully we will get enough for sales next year.”

 

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