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Mixed results for the 2024 asparagus season

"Turbulent weather made harvest conditions more difficult"

After a very early start to the season in mid-March, late frosts slowed down the asparagus harvest somewhat and led to crop failures in green asparagus and some damage in the early young white asparagus plants. The very warm month of May, with heavy rainfall, resulted in very wet and partially flooded soils. In Bavaria, the flooding brought the asparagus harvest to an abrupt end in some cases. However, most of the asparagus fields in non-flooded areas survived the weather well and without major damage. In June, the cold weather slowed down asparagus growth, resulting in smaller harvests and asparagus shortages.

"This season demanded a lot from asparagus growers due to the late frosts and extremely high rainfall, but they coped well. The harvest volumes are likely to be lower due to the often cool weather and the loss of asparagus areas due to flooding. Due to lower inflation, consumer prices for asparagus were almost at the same level as last year. Asparagus fans can still enjoy the local vegetable until 24 June," explains Simon Schumacher, spokesman for the board of the Verband Süddeutscher Spargel- und Erdbeeranbauer e.V. (VSSE).

Asparagus shortage in June
"Most asparagus fields survived the high levels of rainfall in April and May without major damage if they were not flooded. Towards the end of the season, it has now remained cool for the most part, so that the asparagus plants can be harvested normally until 24 June. The sheep cold last week kept the harvest volume within limits, so that asparagus was in demand," asparagus cultivation consultant Dr Ludger Aldenhoff explains.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, the season was divided into two parts. Asparagus growers had to contend with the weather, especially in the south-west. At the end of May, some of the asparagus fields were no longer passable and young plants were flooded. "We had ducks and geese swimming around the asparagus beds. The situation was very difficult. The farms finished harvesting green asparagus because it was time. Asparagus growers harvested white asparagus as best they could. Now the situation in the plants has eased. The water has drained away, and the asparagus plants are not permanently at risk," summarises Ralf Große Dankbar, asparagus cultivation consultant in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Supply and demand usually go well together
After Easter, consumer demand was somewhat hesitant due to the cool weather, as they were not yet ready for asparagus. However, this changed from the end of April. Asparagus was in particularly high demand at weekends and on many public holidays in May. In June, demand increased while harvest volumes fell, meaning that supply was not always able to meet demand.

Stable consumer prices from the end of April to the end of May
In the period from the end of April to the end of May, average consumer prices for white asparagus from Germany remained at almost the same level as in 2023, with individual weekly values ranging from EUR 8.20/kg to EUR 9.24/kg in May. "Due to the tighter supply situation at the end of the season, prices in June could be slightly higher than last year. However, the level of 2022, when prices rose significantly at the end of the season, is unlikely to be reached," explains Claudio Gläßer, asparagus market expert at Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft.

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