Truffle production in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – potential and limitation


  • A. Khanaqa


In Saudi Arabia desert truffles are much appreciated for culinary despite high prices. This is attributed to high demand throughout the year and a limited offer. So far, only naturally occurring truffles have been traded on local markets. The aim of the present investigation was to find out whether it is possible to establish and propagate truffles under semi arid conditions in Saudi Arabia using olive plants as host. The field experiment was installed at Al-Khalidiah Farm-Tebrak situated in the vicinity of Riyadh and comprised an area of 150 ha. Previously raised olive cuttings were inoculated with Tirmania nivea and Tirmania pinoyi and kept under controlled greenhouse conditions prior to be transplanted into the field. Although olive plants developed well, yields of truffles was very weak after four years. The incorporation of a suitable soil on separated areas modified the situation and truffles started to develop well, and up to 14 kg/ha were yielded. Unusual heavy rainfalls, however, inhibited the development of the fruit bodies of truffles resulting in a sharp decrease of the yields. Based on the promising results obtained during a four-year period, it was decided to continue to produce desert truffles taking into account the experiences gained in the past years.