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Michigan asparagus season now under way

When late-season blizzards dropped six inches of snow on asparagus fields, many anxious consumers wondered if that would lead to delays in the highly anticipated Michigan asparagus season. aspa

While snows last month and cooler-than-usual temperatures did delay this year’s crop, Michigan asparagus season is now officially under way, the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board said May 13, with some grower-shippers beginning to ship orders last week and many others beginning to ship this week.

The cool spring weather has provided growers with some extra time to prepare fields and complete beginning of season tasks like mowing and fertilizer application.

John Bakker, executive director of the board, which is based in DeWitt, said, “Grower-shippers are on schedule to harvest and deliver similar volume to last season. We’re expecting to see peak volumes toward the end of the month, just in time for Memorial Day.”

Suppliers throughout the industry said 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 the host of health benefits derived from consuming asparagus, the 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 100-plus family farmers that produce the majority of Michigan’s asparagus are anticipating a great season and they are committed to the proud ideals of seasonally fresh, U.S. grown, eating local and sustainable food miles that all make Michigan Asparagus a perfect choice for today’s consumer during the spring and early summer months.