After a surge in Mexican volumes that dragged down prices in February and March, asparagus prices appear to be on the rise.
“With ideal weather conditions, the yields in Caborca were at historical highs — up to 25% per acre better than any other year,” said Walter Yager, chief executive officer of Miami-based Alpine Fresh.
Tim Ryan, asparagus manager for Deerfield, Fla.-based Ayco Farms, called the Mexican deal a strange one, with large volumes coming on quickly.
“Good quality and low pricing have made it very difficult for Peru as we can see by the low volume over the last two months,” Ryan said.
“From February through the end of March,” he said, “there were about 400,000 less in volume from Peru compared to last year.”
Peru is returning to the market just in time to compete with local stalks cropping up on schedule in Washington and California.
Good demand, quality
“As we head into the Easter promotional period, prices look good for a change and there seems to be good demand,” said Yager.
Cherie Angulo, executive director of the El Centro-based California Asparagus Commission, said harvesting continues in all production regions and growers report exceptional quality.
“California should produce promotable quantities of high-quality asparagus through June,” Angulo said.
Alan Schreiber, executive director of the Washington Asparagus Commission, predicted an April 8 start, and hopes for similar yields to last year, when growers faced challenging weather conditions.
“Some asparagus acres were taken out and some fields have become less productive, but we have some new fields starting to come on,” Schreiber said.
Weather a factor
Asparagus is even making an alarming appearance a month early on the East Coast and into Canada.
“I’ve never experienced a season where we would start before the first of May,” said Randy VandeGuchte, president of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Superior Sales Inc.
“If the weather stays above normal, we may start the 15th to 25th of April,” said VandeGuchte, a grower and shipper of Michigan vegetables.
“We’re concerned we might get started and the weather will turn bad and shut us down for a week or two.”
Even Peru isn’t immune from this year’s wacky weather.
“The crops are doing very well, but the Peruvian coast is having its warmest summer and fall ever,” said Jay Rodriguez, owner of Miami, Fla.-based Crystal Valley Foods.