Strong demand expected for Washington, Michigan asparagus

05/04/2010 04:55:44 PM
Andy Nelson

Grower-shippers expect strong demand for Washington and Michigan asparagus in May and June.

Courtesy Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board

Demand for Michigan and Washington asparagus is expected to be strong in May and June.

Growing weather during winter and early spring was outstanding, said Sharon Heer, general manager for Yakima, Wash.-based Rasmussen Marketing Inc.

The middle of spring, however, has been another story.

“It’s been a struggle,” Heer said May 3. “The last six weeks have been cooler, and there’s been a lot of wind. Production’s been extremely limited.”

By the middle or end of the week of May 10, however, the weather should start to improve and Washington asparagus volumes increase, she said.

Frost in late April slightly delayed volumes out of Michigan, said John Bakker, executive director of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, DeWitt. A rye cover crop, however, was limiting wind damage.

Michigan volumes are expected to begin peaking in mid-May, with promotions starting May 10 and ramping up May 17, Bakker said. 

On May 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $42 for 28-pound cartons of large green asparagus from Washington, up from $36-38 last year at the same time.

With several major Washington growers switching acreage from fresh to processing this year, Heer expects continued brisk movement on the fresh side.

“There’s an awful lot of demand out here without those key players,” she said. “I think it will be a very good year for prices.”

Bakker agreed.

“The fresh market is pretty hot right now,” he said. “Growers are pretty happy.”

Demand has been strong on the West Coast as well as in Canada and in some pockets of the Midwest, Heer said. Rasmussen expects to ship Washington asparagus through June, Heer said.

Michigan’s deal would likely start to taper off in mid-June and be done by the end of the month, Bakker said. Volumes were expected to be in the 7 million to 8 million box range, up from last year’s total of 6 million, he said.
 



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