"The asparagus season's looking great," says Walter Gubbels. He and his brother run the Gubbels nursery. This is a 45-hectare farm in the Netherlands. The asparagus grower has good reason to be satisfied. The nursery has won the tastiest asparagus prize awarded by the local Asparagus Society. The farm got this honor in 2005 and 2013 as well.
"This season's sales are going extremely well, and prices remain high. This week, we stopped cultivating our greenhouse asparagus. So our production's fallen a little. It's a pity that it's not a bit warmer now. The min-tunnels season should've currently been in full swing. But because of the lack of sunlight, their volumes are limited. Little sunshine's been forecast for next fortnight too. The available volume will, therefore, remain limited."
"Prices are high for this time of year. Yesterday they started at between €8.50 and €9 for AAs. Consumers are finding their way to the asparagus market. That's despite the hospitality industry's closure. They buy asparagus at supermarkets and directly from local growers. This was the case last year too. That was once the dust had settled from the first lockdown measures," says Walter.
After the tasting, the asparagus society chairman, Chris Dekkers, went straight to the farm. He handed the award to Walter and Ton Gubbels.
The tastiest asparagus
Being chosen as having the tastiest asparagus is a prestigious affair among asparagus farmers. This year, a record number of no less than 32 AA asparagus samples were submitted. So, the jury had a tough job choosing the tastiest one. The seven-member jury consists of a mix of people.
They come from not only the agricultural, hospitality, and fruit and vegetable worlds. The judges also include everyday consumers. They do a blind tasting of the samples. They want to assess the asparagus' aroma, flavor, color, bite, and aftertaste. They assign each a point score. This year's tasting took place differently, considering the COVID-19 measures.
"A few years ago, we won with the Cumelus variety. Many growers then started sending in these asparagus. This year, that was reason enough for us to try our hand at Bejo's Prius F1 variety. People kept telling me how delicious they taste. The jury was unanimous. This asparagus scored 648 out of a maximum of 700 points," concludes Walter.