At Aspara Pacific we are constantly trying to improve quality and yields of asparagus through traditional breeding and selection. We are involved in a number of different areas of asparagus research with the aim of maximizing returns to growers.
1. Peter was actively involved in the development and evaluation of Aspire - the world's first computer based decision support system for asparagus. For more information see:
2. Protecting growers against counterfeit seed.
Aspara Pacific is the sole producer of seed of its F1 hybrids - Pacific Purple, Pacific 2000, and Pacific Challenger 1 and 2.
In the past, F2 seed of some varieties like UC 157 has been sold as, or mixed with, F1 seed. Plants grown from F2 seed generally yield at least 30% less than from F1 seed but it is almost impossible for growers to tell the difference by looking at the seed. They tend to look at the price, go for what seems to be the best buy but eventually they are disappointed.
In a world first, Aspara Pacific has commissioned research to "fingerprint" or scientifically certify the origin of our asparagus seed.
All plants absorb the natural properties of the environment in which they are grown. The isotopic composition of rainfall varies from area to area because of environmental differences and factors such as distance from the coast. The soils also have variations in trace element composition. Seed grown at a particular location has a unique fingerprint that cannot be copied if the seed is grown at a different site.
So while it is possible for counterfeiters to copy labels etc., they cannot copy the unique isotopic and trace element fingerprint of asparagus seed grown by Aspara Pacific.
Growers who are concerned about whether or not the seed they have purchased originated from Aspara seed blocks can send us a sample for testing.
3. Automated asparagus harvesting
As a first step towards automation of asparagus harvesting we have evaluated new ergonomic asparagus harvesting machines for four seasons. The results are excellent:
* productivity of staff more than doubled
* staff numbers for harvesting our 20 ha field reduced from 20-30 to 13
* the cool chain improved. The maximum time from cutting a spear to refrigeration was 20 minutes meaning the consumer gets a much better eating experience.
Having an active research programme means we can solve growers problems ensuring they get the best possible returns from their asparagus.
We will update this page as new results of our latest research come to hand.