13:01 26 July 2011
Western Australias South West region has proven to be the ideal place to grow black truffles, with the State producing more than the rest of Australia.
This truffle season (which runs from June to August) will see the regions largest producer - The Wine & Truffle Coin Manjimup - harvest almost 3,500 kilos, which is a major achievement considering Australia produces 4,500 kilos in total.
Manjimup was identified many years ago as the ideal place to grow black truffles due to its rich soils and cool climate which are similar to those in renowned truffle destinations in Europe.
Truffle manager and head hunter, Frances Lee has begun the task of finding the valuable harvest.
With over 13,000 trees on the property to look under, she will use five dogs to scour the 70 rows of trees over the weeks ahead, assisted by up to 30 employees who are mainly made up of European backpackers.
The picking of the truffles happens every five days and Fran hunts with the dogs and marks the truffles with a pink tag; then collectors come through the rows of trees and record the tree number, row number, how deep the truffle is and inspect it for damage.
Dogs are taught not to eat truffles, they just find them with their powerful sense of smell and alert their 'hunter' to the find.
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