The temperature in Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand has been ideal for asparagus cultivation lately, according to grower Lindsay Kay. “We’ve just had days that were around 20 degrees, which is perfect for the cultivation, the asparagus flourishes under these conditions. This means the season should be good. There is still a chance of night frost, as it’s still early in the season, but we should be past that soon, with a bit of luck. We started harvesting in mid September and I expect the season to run until the start of December.”

“If the conditions remain good, we’re hoping to get around 4.5 tonnes to the hectare. We still harvest the asparagus by hand. We have local workers who are experienced, some of them have been working with us for 15 years.”
Kay said there is no set amount of produce intended for the fresh market. “It depends on the prices being offered from both sides. At the moment I would say about 60% is going to the fresh market. The prices in general at the moment aren’t outstanding, but they are satisfactory.”

“Asparagus enjoys a premium here because it is the first vegetable of the spring and is reasonably easy to prepare for a meal, so it’s quite popular. However, one of our problems at the moment is that the general public have less money in their pocket at the beginning of the season, and so less to spend on premium products like this. Not everyone is affected by this, but most people do tend have less money at this time of year.”

“Because the New Zealand dollar has had a high exchange rate lately, we haven’t been exporting much as we would make less profit. The remoteness of New Zealand to markets is also an issue. We are hoping to export more in the future. Japan would be the biggest market for asparagus, followed by places like Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. All export is done by air freight.”

“We are hoping to look into more packaging possibilities for our asparagus, such as SmartFresh, which contains a compound that interrupts the ethylene production in fruit, and potentially asparagus.”

Kay’s canned local produce is sold under the brand Heinz Watties, but this brand opens mid - October. “This is the last year for Watties, so we will be switching to Mount Erin Pacific, another local company. They will take around the same volume as Watties did. Exporting companies include Boyd's Asparagus, Tender Tips , Leaderbrand and Freshco.”

Lindsay and Jan Kay grows asparagus on 8 hectares out of 28 hectares in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.

For more information:

Lindsay Kay
Ph 0064 6 878 2347
Mobile 0064 27 232 2077