The asparagus harvest in Germany is in full swing. At Asparagus Farm Allofs in Geldern-Walbeck, the cold weather of the last days has brought some relaxation, both in the harvest itself and regarding the price of the vegetables, says senior partner Franz Allofs. "The sales were bad until the beginning of last week. From the middle of the week, sales went better and now we have too little asparagus available."
He does not expect excessive quantities to become available before Easter, which ideally would result in higher prices. "As the German, Dutch and Belgian producers all put much more emphasis on early asparagus, there was simply too much product on the market and prices were sometimes quite low," says Allofs.
As far as the long-term market situation is concerned, Allofs remains tense. On the one hand, after the hot, dry summer last year, much of the arable land was no longer in use, but on the other hand, much was replanted in the past two years. "Many of these new sites will reach their full capacity this year and that could cause problems." However, last summer also had benefits for the asparagus sector: "This year, we are harvesting a lot of thin stems and just a few oversized ones, and the vegetables are particularly tender and very sweet in flavor."
The green asparagus harvest is already in full swing in Walbeck. "We grow the original green asparagus, which is very fine-grained and does not have to be peeled. The taste is more like broccoli or cauliflower, with a slightly nutty touch." Like many experts in the sector, Franz Allofs sees a clear trend going towards the green asparagus, especially among younger generations: "The vegetables are tender and milder in flavor; the asparagus can be roasted or grilled and simply fits better within the dietary requirements of younger people."
Green asparagus is marketed primarily in 500g bundles, while the white asparagus is usually packed in 5-kg plastic bags. This makes the green asparagus much more laborious in post-harvest.
He is skeptical about the Dutch competition: "Since asparagus was harvested much earlier in the Netherlands and the market was oversaturated, quite large quantities were brought to Germany, having a negative impact on market prices."
For the next few weeks, Allofs expects a further increase in prices: "Due to Easter coming up and the slight shortage in the market, prices will continue to rise steadily."