California asparagus grower-shippers and industry officials expect excellent quality, a smooth transition from Mexico and similar volumes as in 2010.
James Paul, salesman for Greg Paul Produce, Stockton, Calif., and Altar Produce LLC, Calexico, Calif., said Greg Paul Produce should begin shipping from the Stockton region toward the end of February, about on time.
The deal will likely wind down at the end of May or beginning of June, also typical, Paul said.
Paul expects a smooth transition from Mexico. Mexican product has been moving through the pipeline at a brisk pace, in large part because of very good quality this season, he said.
Greg Paul Produce expects to market its typical 1,000 to 1,100 acres in the Stockton area, Paul said.
As of Jan. 24, it was shaping up to a season of high-quality asparagus.
“We’ve had ideal growing weather,” Paul said, citing abundant rains and chill hours.
In Stockton the week of Jan. 17, growers had to dig down six to eight inches to find shoots, said Tom Tjerandsen, marketing consultant for the California Asparagus Commission, El Centro.
In Salinas, Calif., however, asparagus was much closer to being ready for harvest, Tjerandsen said.
“Growers have been able to get in to shape beds, and they haven’t had the heavy fogs that have prevented drying,” he said. “It’s right on time.”
California growers will likely wait until Mexico is finished before they begin shipping heavily, Tjerandsen said.
Mexico was expected to finish early this year, most likely in the second week of February, he said.
The southern end of the San Joaquin Valley will kick off the Golden State deal, with Salinas, then Stockton, following, Tjerandsen said.
As of mid-January, the growing weather had been good in all California regions, he said.
“They haven’t had anything to suggest anything but top quality,” Tjerandsen said. “It’s the first year in three they’ve had enough rain.”
Growers in some parts of the state who had been worried about getting their water allocations seemed more confident in January, Tjerandsen said.
“It appears they’ll be granted,” he said.
After years of acreage reductions because of increased competition from import deals, production could actually go up this year, Tjerandsen said, even if acreage remains largely unchanged from 2010.
“There’s a new variety this year, and that tends to mean higher production,” he said.
Cherie Watte Angulo, executive director of commission, also looks forward to an excellent 2011 for California asparagus producers.
“We anticipate an exceptional crop,” she said. “Weather has been ideal leading up to the beginning of our asparagus harvest.”