ALTHOUGH the truffle-harvesting season started in earnest just two days ago for Annette and Nevil Reed, of Four Spring Produce, their biggest specimen so far was gathered a week ago.
The one-hectare Selbourne orchard contains about 600 trees, the majority of which are hazelnut, with a sprinkling of oak and evergreen oak.
Mr Reed said that he used a contractor with his dog to detect the delicate-smelling fungi that grow up to 20 centimetres below the surface, but he smelt the 140-gram specimen himself.
"Our earlier truffles are typically not as good quality as those later in the season." Mr Reed said.
"They tend to be closer to the surface and more susceptible to weather conditions and insect damage.
"They're also easy to damage when trying to dig them out so you tend to go down a millimetre at a time.
"`Often the dog will smell something, but if I can't detect it too, I tend to leave it to ripen a bit more."
Mr Reed said that he and his wife started the truffle-growing enterprise 17 years ago, about three years after truffles were first planted in Tasmania.
"The expectation back then was five to seven years before you could start harvesting, but a lot has been learned in the meantime and some places are getting them in three or four years now," he said.
Mr Reed said that Four Springs Produce was not a high-producing trufflery, but the farm's premium truffles sold for $20 a gram.