In the recent past, a wave of improved asparagus hybrids has been brought to market. These new cultivars are bringing to bear significant improvements in both yield and quality over industry-standard types. As a result, achievable marketable yields per hectare are at levels not seen previously before. All this means that growers will need to carefully plan new plantations and budgets as future production from these asparagus varieties will take marketable spear production to new heights. Conversations in the industry will change from “how many hectares do you grow?” to “what marketable yields are you achieving per crown?”.
These discussions are already commonplace in many parts of intensive horticultural production, not least glasshouse and berry culture. However, asparagus growing has often found itself between intensive and more extensive farming. This is set to change as growers focus on improved efficiencies. This new generation of better asparagus cultivars will play a key role.
UK based Global Plant Genetics, is at the forefront of these developments as it is working on the development of new asparagus hybrids for a range of climatic regions. Jamie Petchell, asparagus specialist at the company, highlights four hybrids that clearly demonstrate their part in this new generation, namely Guelph Eclipse, Guelph Equinox, Greenic and Vittorio. He stated, “these are exciting times in the European asparagus sector and we are delighted to be at the leading edge of varietal development. The improvements we have witnessed on a commercial scale from these four asparagus varieties are stark. Going forward, they will change the way in which asparagus growers write their yield budgets before planting.”
In the meantime, European asparagus growers are busy preparing their fields in advance of the new harvest season which is just around the corner.