20 December 2018
Asparagus cultivation has a bright future!
21-12-2018 There's only one way to describe the asparagus season in 2018: characterized by extremes. The drought and high temperatures ensured it was a challenging season for all the growers. Growers across Europe began selling their produce at the same time, which led to a large surplus of asparagus.
Many asparagus growers’ first thought was to refrain from adding a new plot in 2019. Would this be the right decision, though? It is important to look at the facts and refrain from being led by emotions. What are my returns per plot? Should that older plot be used to grow asparagus for another year? In their cropping plans, asparagus-producing farms that are ready for the future use plots that are between three and four years old on average. This represents the optimum for quality and yield. Base your decision on facts and look at least five years back as well as five years ahead.
Good relationships with plant nurseries are very important. Reflect well on things and be sure to be critical about quality. Only high-quality crowns ensure good returns in the long term, which is a good thing to keep in mind when creating cropping plans for at least eight years. Buying asparagus crowns comes down to a matter of trust.
While terms such as ‘A plants’ and ‘B plants’ are used often, they remain vaguely defined. Our measure of choice is a plant’s weight, because you could be buying plants that weigh an average of 70 grams or at least 70 grams each. Perhaps ‘A plants’ are sold at weights starting from 50 grams. Is the second grading made from 20 grams or from 40 grams? While they may all seem very similar, these numbers represent a world of difference!
You may want to ask yourself where your asparagus crowns were produced, or on which plots of land they were grown. Another thing to consider is whether they were grown in virgin soil, from which many Fusarium samples were taken. Or were your crowns grown on a plot that is used for growing every three to four years? Was the grower who supplied your crowns Select Plant certified? You often cannot tell the difference by looks alone, so what counts is the long term!
Make sure you are well informed when you purchase your plant material. Think critically about the advice you obtain regarding the varieties of asparagus. It is vital that you choose to plant a variety that will match your company and target market, rather than a variety that the seller happens to stock in abundance.
Visiting the plots where the plant nursery cultivates their crowns can also help give you a good impression of what you are dealing with, so make sure to visit and ask the right questions. Some nurseries often try to fend off questions by offering discounts on plant material, but what does a two-cent discount amount to when you are planning to grow a total of one hectare's worth of asparagus? A 400-euro discount over an eight-year growing period equals a 50-euro discount per year, whereas when you make the right choice in plant material, you can earn this amount back easily.
In short, there are plenty of questions to which you need to find the right answer. I wish you good luck in making the considerations that are right for you. Next season will be different once again, and by making the right choices you can make sure that cultivating asparagus is and will remain profitable in the future.
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