A mild winter has raised hopes of an early asparagus season, which would boost prized English supplies.

About 25% more asparagus has been planted this year by UK growers to meet the rise in demand. Growing popularity has pushed household penetration up from 2.7% in 2005 to around 12.4% last year.

The addition of more growers to the British Asparagus campaign for 2007 has generated a record promotional budget of £40,000. This year the theme will be alfresco eating, which will also be promoted at the annual British Asparagus Festival that takes place in the Vale of Evesham between 27 May and 4 June. The event will include cookery demonstrations, a craft fair, a farmers' market and asparagus tasting. The campaign also has a redesigned web site.

The traditional British season begins on 1 May and runs for about eight weeks until the end of June, but the first spears could be cut in April because they are grown under plastic.