Scientists said on Nov. 27 that they had proof that climate change was hitting the Perigord black truffle, a delight of gourmets around the world.
Trufflers have long suspected that global warming is affecting Tuber melanosporum — dubbed “the black diamond” on account of its color and extraordinary price — in its native habitat in Spain, Italy and southwestern France.
A century ago, French trufflers notched up a harvest that, according to legend, reached 1,000 tonnes in a year. In the 1960s, truffle yields were still 200 to 300 tonnes annually. But in recent years, they have been a meager 25 tonnes or so, prompting retail prices to rocket to as high as 2,000 euros a kilogram.
In a letter to the journal Nature Climate Change, Swiss scientists said they now had clear data that drier summers were to blame, as this affected the oak and hazelnut trees on which the prized fungus grows.
The team found that harvests in France’s Perigord and in Spain’s Aragon region fell at roughly the same pace from 1970 to 2006, and this trend was in line with an overall decline in summer rainfall.
Harvests in northern Italy’s Piedmont and Umbria also retreated, but not as badly as in France and Spain, and this correlated with relatively higher levels of summer rain in those regions.