On a frigid winter day in southern Kentucky, Margaret Townsend crisscrossed her family’s farm, following Monza, a truffle-sniffing dog hired for the day.

They were hoping to find black Périgord truffles growing in the roots of the 4,800 hazelnut and oak seedlings Ms. Townsend planted in 2011, after her father read an article about cultivating the fungi. Ms. Townsend, an industrial engineer and a former executive at Microsoft Corp. and General Electric Co., hasn’t had a harvest yet from the trees, inoculated with truffle...

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