Storm and rain notwithstanding: asparagus season slowly getting underway

Storm and rain notwithstanding: asparagus season slowly getting underway

Even though the first farmers have already started harvesting the first asparagus, experts do not expect significant quantities from domestic cultivation until the end of march.

"Depending on the weather, the growing areas expect to have the first asparagus under film cover by mid march," said michael koch from the agrarmarkt-informationsgesellschaft (AMI) in bonn.

At present, in some federal states, growers are already offering small quantities of the noble vegetables. Asparagus farmers are relying on a combination of heated fields and film over the asparagus spears to heat up the vegetables.

However, the quantities are still so small that he is not yet able to name consumer prices, says asparagus specialist koch. "The netherlands were even earlier, bringing heated asparagus to the coarse markets as early as february," he reports. Some of the asparagus has already been sold in supermarkets. But the asparagus has not yet attracted the attention of the customers. The carnival season that has just ended is not yet asparagus season.

First coarser quantities could be available nationwide as early as the second half of march, says AMI expert koch. Traditionally, the harvest in the south and southwest of germany always starts one to one and a half weeks before the other regions. However, this could also change in view of the warm weather: "actually, the ground is about the same temperature everywhere."

In lower saxony, for example, the asparagus season starts just before easter, on 8. April official. Then there should be sufficient quantities of domestic asparagus in the food trade, estimates fred eickhorst, spokesman for the asparagus and berry growers’ association.

In the past few weeks, farmers throughout germany have had to cope with storm-related delays in harvest preparation. The spreading of the film on the piled up earth dams was not possible due to the wind. But heavy rainfall has also made work in the fields more difficult, reports anke meyer from the thiermann asparagus farm in kirchdorf, lower saxony, for example.

Apart from the weather, the main unknown for asparagus farmers at the moment is the further development of the coronavirus disease. Possible to get harvesters even harder than last year because of quarantine and travel restrictions, eickhorst and koch say. Already last year, some fields could not be harvested because there were not enough harvesters.

But also the consumer behavior could become exciting. Will the consumers have any desire at all for asparagus, if they are worried about corona and limit their purchases?? Fresh products such as asparagus and strawberries will have a hard time, says koch.

In general, asparagus cultivation is currently in a transitional phase. Two dry and hot summers in a row like 2018 and 2019 have never been seen before. There also hasn’t been a real frost period this winter, they say, and many regions saw heavy rain at the end of 2019. But asparagus needs dryness and frost in winter to regenerate, says koch. "We simply lack experiential knowledge of how plants react after the past two dry and hot years."Last year, the harvest in germany already fell by eight percent compared to 2018, to 122,000 tons on an area under cultivation of 22,900 hectares.

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