For retailers, California asparagus means Easter is nigh.

Promotions traditionally are timed specifically for the April 8 holiday.

California’s deal will be in full vigor weeks ahead of the holiday, shippers say.

“Easter is such a natural promotional time,” said Cherie Watte Angulo, executive director of the El Centro-based California Asparagus Commission. “Asparagus is a traditional side dish, and I know the retailers do a very good job promoting during that time of the year.”

Other holidays can create promotional opportunities for retailers during California’s deal, too, Watte Angulo said.

“I’d be interested in talking about differences and promotions at other times of the year like Mother’s Day, Memorial Day,” she said. “How about Cinco de Mayo? We have an awesome guacamole recipe. We have other opportunities for promoting asparagus, especially after, the Easter push.”

And, it is a major push, said Leo Rolandelli, president of Jacobs, Malcolm & Burtt Inc., San Francisco.

“Easter is the largest eating holiday for asparagus,” he said.

The reason is Easter presents opportunities other holidays don’t have for family get-togethers, and that means family meals that feature asparagus, said James Paul, salesman for Greg Paul Produce Sales Inc., Stockton, Calif.

“I don’t think any of them will have the same magnitude of Easter, where families get together,” he said. “You just don’t see that on other holidays.

“Asparagus is extremely popular (on Easter), and opens the eyes of a lot of people who are not used to asparagus.”

Some promotions combine the holiday theme with an emphasis on “California-grown,” said Wayne Gularte, partner with Gonzalez, Calif.-based Rincon Farms.

“It helps,” he said. “We’ll promote the product as California-grown, fresh. It’s about as close as you can get to your refrigerator.”

A challenge for growers and shippers to is make sure different types of clients within the retail sector are served, including big box stores said Marc Marchini, a partner with Stockton, Calif.-based A.M. Farms and president of the asparagus commission.

Retailers can move plenty of asparagus if they come up with a variety of promotional ideas, said Julia Inestroza, marketing and merchandising manager with Los Angeles-based Gourmet Trading Co.