English asparagus will soon be available for far longer into the summer and yields will be much heavier, according to Victor Aveling, chairman of the Asparagus Growers’ Association.
Historically, asparagus cutting in England finishes on June 21 because the industry has always believed production has reached its end by then.
But a new method of root analysis, ASPIRE, will enable growers to take an accurate measure of the season’s potential to run for longer.
The New Zealand-developed technology is being tested for its suitability for the UK.
Aveling, speaking at an open day at Cobrey Farms, near Ross on Wye, said that it was likely to be commercially available
within two years. ASPIRE allows growers to measure carbohydrate levels in the asparagus root, which is known as a crown. If the levels are high then the plant will grow further and yield more crop.
Meanwhile, England’s asparagus producers are confident the coming season will be a huge success.
Planting is on the increase, although it can take asparagus beds at least three years to start to produce saleable crop, said Aveling. He estimated the area now under cultivation was up by 25% on last year.
He added: “We are confident the market can take all we produce this season.”
This year’s £30,000 promotional activity has been concentrated on announcing the start of the season.
Pam Lloyd of PR agency BCLO, which runs the campaign, said that last year 861 tonnes of English asparagus were sold through UK retailers in May and June, some 25% more than in the same period in 2003.
The momentum will build with radio interviews planned for April 27, and sample drops at radio stations in the first week of May, she said.
The first English asparagus started going into stores in the first week of this month.
David Shapley