Asparagus is a low-risk, permanent horticultural crop. The yield of marketable spears is reliable and involves a minimum of crop husbandry compared with other horticultural crops. As such the crop is well suited to part-time horticulturists as well as livestock farmers, process crop growers and growers of other permanent crops such as fruit trees or vines.
New Varieties and harvest mechanization is making asparagus one of the most profitable vegetable crops.
Increased market demand driven by consumer awareness of the anti-tumor activity and high anti oxidant levels of asparagus is fuelling a steady growth in consumption of asparagus in domestic and export markets.
Asparagus is one of the few horticultural crops that is tolerant of frost.
Most climatic types as suitable given the varieties now available.
A wide range of soils can be used in which to plant asparagus. Management techniques will change slightly from soil type to soil type. The most ideal soil is:
* preferably free of compaction zones
The proposed site should be free of perennial weeds. Perennial weeds are a perennial headache in asparagus. These should be eliminated before the asparagus is planted.
Availability of Plants
Good quality crowns of the best varieties are often in short supply. Asparagus can be established with either seedlings or crown transplants. Always choose plants from a High Health Nursery.
Place an order early (6-9 months before you plan to plant) to ensure access to the best cultivars.
High Health Plants
These are plants that are produced under a strict regime of quality control. Plants from a High Health Nursery will be:
* True to label
* Free of perennial weeds
* Treated for diseases that may affect establishment
* Grown in soil with no previous history of asparagus
* If stored, the crowns should be kept in a high humidity cool store
Shelter is often beneficial. Good shelter:
* Reduces soil erosion
* Improves fern growth
* Protects spears against the effects of strong winds
Deciduous shelter is often preferred.
Asparagus is not a demanding crop in terms of fertilizer requirements.
Lime - to pH 6.0 - 6.5
Apply lime and superphosphate at least 6 months before planting, then deep plough.
Asparagus is drought tolerant but adequate summer moisture is essential. In drier areas and on light textured soils, irrigation will improve establishment and yields especially in the first two years.
For More Information see:
www.hortnz.co.nz - product group Asparagus