Pietermaritzburg - It is believed that the first Perigord black truffle of the season was found on a farm near Kokstad last Monday. Willowdale farm co-owner Max Bastard, who unearthed the black truffle, suspects it is the first to be harvested in the province. “The truffle was a beautifully ripe specimen weighing 97 grams, a fairly large truffle as the average truffle size is around 30 grams,” he said. Truffle cultivation began on the farm four-and-a-half years ago. Bastard said Willowdale forms part of the Woodford Truffles group, who are “pioneers in the South African truffle industry”. “Perigord black truffles are prized for their unique pungent, earthy aroma, and used in the best kitchens and restaurants around the world,” he said. Bastard said the black truffles are one of the most expensive culinary ingredients around the world, fetching up to $2 000 (about R30 000) per kilogram. “It has been a five-year process and I am very pleased that we found the truffle,” he said. Bastard said he had found two more on the farm on Tuesday morning, much smaller in size than the first truffle he had found. “I would be very surprised if any other black truffles have been found in KZN, and as far as I am aware, Willowdale has harvested the first black truffle in the province.” Bastard said he had had many farmers watching the progress of his truffle cultivation and his harvest had proved the process was possible. “It is possible to cultivate truffles here and I think farmers could create a little niche in KZN for truffle cultivation, which would be very good for the economy,” he said. Black truffles are traditionally harvested in the winter, using specially trained dogs to find them.