Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Fun Farm Facts--Asparagus

Did you know?

Michigan ranks third in the nation for asparagus production.

Michigan asparagus, unlike asparagus from other states, is hand-snapped above the ground. This method yields a more tender and flavorful product.

Michigan processes 95% of the U.S. asparagus crop.

Today, while you read this, will you pray for Michigan's asparagus and fruit farmers? The early warm weather has put everything ahead of schedule, and they are facing a partial to total loss of their crops. Thank you.

6 comments:

  1. Lona- how do other states harvest asparagus? Thought snapping it above ground was the only way.

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  2. I had to go digging to find the answer (no pun intended).

    Asparagus is harvested by cutting or snapping by hand. A common cutting instrument is the V-shaped hand weeder often used to dig dandelions from lawns. Pointed, short-handled knives are also used. Spears are cut 1 inch or more below the soil. Experienced harvesters can cut asparagus rapidly in stone-free soils. This method results in a large percentage of white color at the lower end of the spears. The white area is fibrous and tough and of poor edible quality. Cutting below the soil may also result in injury to underground spears that are about to emerge. Most asparagus shipped to wholesale markets is cut below ground.

    I found the above text here: http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/factsheets/AsparagusInfo.htm#Harvest

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  3. Very interesting about how asparagus is harvested.

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  4. Why is the asparagus crop in jeopardy? I thought it was almost indestructible. Can't wait for my first Michigan asparagus - it's heavenly! Here in SE Michigan, my regular source started new beds a couple years ago, so they haven't had a crop yet. I've been worried about all the fruit trees blooming early - are the bees awake yet? Did the cold weather freeze the fruit buds? Fingers crossed that the cold snap wasn't TOO cold.

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  5. Rhonda, the timing of the harvest is critical. Migrant workers have a routine, traveling from one part of the country to another. When the asparagus is ready weeks early, as it is this year, they are still in another part of the country, harvesting something else. I just saw that the farmers in the Hart area are having a job fair for those who want to work the harvest for a 6-8 weeks. The job pays a base rate of $7.50 and you can earn more if you are a fast worker.

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  6. Ahhh, I hadn't thought ahead to the problem of harvesting - I was thinking more like the fruit wasn't pollinated or the buds froze off (which might still happen). Even more reason to get my own asparagus bed going!

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