Do you want to start asparagus farming? Do you want to know how to grow asparagus commercially? Here in this post, we put detailed information of asparagus cultivation.
Asparagus is a high-value crop. Therefore, it gives good financial return to the growers. However, asparagus farming is not a short-term cultivation. So, you must do strategic planning before you start planting.
Asparagus is a herbaceous and perennial plant. Generally, the height of a mature plant reaches up to 100 to 150 cm. The scientific name is Asparagus Officinalis. And it belongs to the Asparagaceae family. Asparagus is used both as vegetable and medicine.
Asparagus has male and female plants, with the female plants producing berries. Generally, cool regions are better for asparagus farming. Globally, major asparagus growing countries are China, Peru, Mexico, Germany, Thailand, Spain, USA, Japan, and Italy. In India, Himachal Pradesh is the largest grower state of asparagus.
Economic Importance Of Asparagus Farming
Asparagus is a very precious vegetable. It is an early season crop. And you can combine it with other crops to get the maximum benefit of the retail market. If you are growing asparagus in a less than 1-acre land, then it is better to concentrate on the retail market. However, you can sell to the wholesalers also when the quantity is big. Asparagus also has medicinal properties. So there are several processors who buy asparagus. Generally, processors are less likely to contract with small-acreage growers. In addition, this crop has great export potential also.
Health Benefits Of Asparagus
- Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as chromium.
- In addition, asparagus is a great source of antioxidants.
- It contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, which serves as a natural diuretic, and increased urination not only releases fluid but helps rid the body of excess salts.
- Eating asparagus may help protect against and fight certain forms of cancer, such as bone, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers.
- Asparagus is high in both fiber and water content, this helps to prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract.
- Finally, asparagus ranks among the top 20 foods in regards to its ANDI score (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index); this score measures vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient content in relation to the caloric content.
Things To Consider In Commercial Asparagus Farming
- First of all, you must take into consideration of the agroclimatic condition of your locality. Asparagus grows well in the cool region.
- Check how much are of land you have. And accordingly, craft a business plan. Generally, you will need to concentrate on the cost of growing and marketing strategies.
- You must have the adequate drainage facility. Check it out.
- Check what are the hand tools and equipment you need for growing asparagus. And arrange the same.
- Finally, asparagus farming demands patience. You can expect first-time harvest al least after 2 years of planting.
Best Varieties For Asparagus farming
There are different types of asparagus varieties available globally. And certainly, the availability hugely varies on the relocation. Even most of the improved varieties are also resistant to two common asparagus diseases: fusarium rot and asparagus rust. Asparagus crowns are usually available just once a year in early spring. So plan accordingly. Here we put a list of varieties available in India.
- Argenteuil Early – a selection from the Dutch purple type.
- Argenteuil Late – Dutch type.
- Connivers Colossal – an American light green type.
- Marther Washington – an American variety with roundish tipped bud.
- Palmetto – Argentevil type pea green in color.
- Sutton’s Giant Fresh – Argenteuil type with stout buds.
Agroclimatic Condition For Asparagus Farming
Asparagus prefers light and medium loams or sandy loam soils, well supplied with organic matter. So this type of soil is the most perfect for asparagus cultivation. However, you can grow this plant in the type of soil under proper treatment of the soil. Even, you can grow asparagus in heavy clay soil with deep cultivation and well drainage. The optimum pH required for growing asparagus is between pH 6.0 and 6.7. Even you can grow asparagus on soil, which has a salt content, too high for many other crops.
Asparagus Farming Basic Steps
Procure The Crowns or Seeds
You can grow asparagus by two ways. Either you can grow from seeds or from crowns directly. You can procure the crowns from the local growers or nursery owners. Even asparagus seeds and crowns both are available for online buying too.
Generally, you have to procure 8-10 kg of seeds for a hectare of area. You can sow the seeds in the early spring or during winter. And it nd takes 3 to 4 weeks to germinate and 8-10 weeks to produce ‘Crowns’. The rows are spaced at about 1.5 to 2 meters and 45 to 60 cm distance is kept within rows.
Asparagus likes rich, well-drained, non-acidic soil. However, the plant is extremely salt tolerant. Before planting the crowns, remove any existing vegetation from the planting area, including roots. In addition, loose the soil to a depth of 6 or 8 inches over the entire planting area with a tiller or digging fork. Furthermore, spread 2 to 3 inches of compost over the planting area and mix it into the soil.
Sowing & Transplanting
Place one crown on top of each mound with the roots splayed out in every direction. Cover the crowns with two inches of soil (filling in the spaces between each mound, as well). You must do watering deeply at this time.
According to the soil test report, you will need to craft the fertilizer application plan. And it hugely depends on the PH balance and the availability of nutrients in the soil.
In the summer season, the crop needs irrigation once a week, while irrigation is not necessary from August to January. Keep the asparagus bed moist, but not soggy throughout the first growing season.
You must keep attention on weed control. Also, you can use herbicides to control weeds. Several pre-plant and postemergence herbicides are available for asparagus, depending on the specific weed problem and the time of year.
In addition, you will need to monitor the insect attack closely. Asparagus Beetles are the most potential larvae for plant damage.
Harvesting & Yield
You can start harvesting from the 3rd year onwards. However, if the plantation is vigorous, you can start the 1st cuttings from the 2nd year after the crowns are set out. Moreover, you must complete the 1st harvesting within 2 to 3 weeks.
You can expect a yield on an average about 3500 to 4000 kg per hectare each year.
You can pack asparagus upright with damp absorbent pads under the spears. Asparagus spears will bend toward light, so horizontally packed spears will noticeably bend upwards.
You can store asparagus for up to 3 weeks at 36° F. Asparagus will turn flaccid and dull gray-green if kept for more than 10 days at 32° F.
Asparagus is a very remunerative crop. Therefore, asparagus farming is one of the most profitable farming opportunities even for the small land holders.