The Michigan asparagus season is now underway, it was announced in mid-May, and the vegetable is being shipped to stores on schedule.
When late season blizzards dropped six inches of snow on asparagus fields, anxious consumers wondered if that would lead to delays in the highly anticipated Michigan asparagus season. While snows in April and cooler than usual temperatures did delay this year’s crop, grower-shippers began to ship orders in early May, with many others following shortly.
The cool spring weather provided growers with some extra time to prepare fields and complete beginning-of- season tasks, like mowing and fertilizer application.
“Grower-shippers are on schedule to harvest and deliver similar volume to last season,” said John Bakker, executive director of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board. “We’re expecting to see peak volumes toward the end of the month, just in time for Memorial Day.”
Suppliers throughout the industry are reporting that pricing and quality will be on par with last season.
“It’s more important than ever to buy local, domestically grown asparagus during the season,” Bakker said. “We see asparagus growing operations throughout the country, mainly in California, closing their doors because they can’t compete with imported asparagus. It’s a shame, when you factor in the food miles and the irrigation water, it’s much more environmentally sustainable to buy local.”
In addition, domestically grown asparagus is at most four days old when it reaches the consumer, as opposed to imported asparagus that can spend up to 21 days in transit.
The Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board has undertaken additional marketing efforts this year to help promote Michigan asparagus and keep it top of mind for consumers during peak season. With a focus on educating consumers about buying local vs. imported asparagus in addition to asparagus’ host of health benefits, the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board will be rolling out new content on a daily basis and hosting weekly giveaways via social media contests.
With quality and volume expected to be high this year, the more than 100 family farmers that produce the majority of Michigan’s asparagus are anticipating a great season.