Solid season despite lower supply of New Jersey asparagus

Thanks to a cool spring, supplies of New Jersey asparagus were a little tighter this season.

“We were down this year—we were probably running at about 2/3 of a normal yield,” says Tom Sheppard of Eastern Fresh Growers in Cedarville, NJ. He looks to the cool April as to the reason behind the late start. “It was the coolest April since the mid 1980s and we didn’t get started early so the yields were hurt by that,” he says.

Competing with New Jersey asparagus were supplies from other domestic markets. “California grows in our early season and then Washington State starts within a few weeks of when we do. Michigan later on—they’re in there now,” says Sheppard. “But California doesn’t have the volume they once had while Washington State and Michigan still have plenty.”

Sizing scaling smaller now
Despite the big chill, the sizing of the New Jersey asparagus looked good for the 2018 season. “At this time of year it starts to get smaller. Some people prefer that but we like what we call large-sized which is most efficient for packing and cutting and most customers like it,” says Sheppard.

At the same time, demand was solid for asparagus which is to be expected given the crop wasn’t at full capacity. “And prices were up a little this year,” says Sheppard, noting though that pricing proved consistently good as well. “We put ads out a little bit up from last year and with our reduced yields, we didn’t have a whole lot more than the ads to offer. There were some high markets sometimes in the local auction where the market got to be $75. But I’d rather be consistently at $55 and not get the dips in there and keeps the customer supplied,” he notes.

The asparagus season for New Jersey is anticipated to wrap up around June 20th, which is a slightly earlier than usual end to the season.

For more information:
Tom Sheppard
Eastern Fresh Growers
Tel: +1 (856) 447-3563

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