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Asparagus farmers draw a mixed balance on St John's Day

"It was a season of extremes"

Today, St John's Day (24 June), traditionally marks the end of the asparagus marketing season. However, due to the early start to the season, many producers withdrew from the market early this year. As part of the official end of the season, looks back at this year's campaign.

Bavaria: Harvest ends two weeks earlier than usual
"It was a good, average year," says Karl-Heinz Bernard, Deputy Chairman of the Franconian Asparagus Growers' Association, summarising this year's asparagus season in response to a question from BR24. The asparagus farmers in Lower Franconia are satisfied. The season started very early. The first spears were harvested as early as the beginning of April. As a result, most Lower Franconian asparagus growers had already finished the season a week ago, around 10 June.

Saxony-Anhalt: Asparagus cultivation area continues to decline
In 2023, farms in Saxony-Anhalt harvested a total of 1,489 tonnes of asparagus. According to the State Statistical Office, 30 farms in Saxony-Anhalt (2022: 32 farms) cultivated asparagus on a total area of 322 ha. In addition, there were 115 ha on which asparagus was not in production. While the area under cultivation in yield has decreased continuously since 2015, the area not in yield has also decreased for the first time in 4 years (2022: 190 ha). The average yield per hectare was 46 dt/ha, just above the 6-year average of 45 dt/ha.

NRW: supply and demand in balance
Shortly before the end of the season, the asparagus sector in North Rhine-Westphalia was quite satisfied with this year's harvest results. "The weather during the season was perfect for asparagus. It doesn't like it too cold or too hot and was therefore able to grow well. The supply matched the demand very well, as a lot of asparagus was eaten, especially during the public holidays in May," writes the Chamber of Agriculture in a review of the season.

Hesse: 'Season of extremes'
The 2024 asparagus season in Hesse was slightly below average to average in terms of yield and sales. This was the conclusion drawn by the Hessian Farmers' Association at the official end of the harvest on 24 June. Persistent rain also hit the asparagus plants of Hessian farmer Stephan Funk hard. "That really hurts," says Funk. "The soil was already very soaked beforehand and could hardly absorb any more water. It couldn't drain away any more," he explains, showing the pictures of him standing in rubber boots in water that was up to 40 centimetres deep in places between the asparagus ridges. "It was a season of extremes."

Baden: High asparagus prices put the brakes on sales
Asparagus prices were too high for many people, observes asparagus trader Walter Borel: "Most people turn up their noses when they see the prices and walk away." He understands this: a kilo from ten euros is a lot of money. Retired customers in particular can't always afford it. Borel explains the high prices for asparagus on the one hand by higher wages - on the other hand, fertilisers have become more expensive. Another reason for the high prices was the flooding and all the rain. This has also driven up prices.

Thuringia: 'Do not overharvest asparagus fields'
After the early start to the season, the Thuringian asparagus harvest is also coming to an end relatively early this year, confirms Stefan Klingshirn, head of the Klingshirn asparagus farm in Brahmenau in the Greiz district. "We started harvesting asparagus on 3 April this year and finished on 8 June. We said we wouldn't go on until the 24th, because we want to have something from our plants next year and not overharvest them." Accordingly, the asparagus is already sold out here. The asparagus plants are now being nurtured and cared for so that they will hopefully produce a good yield next year as well. However, the farmer explains that they were already satisfied with this year's yield: "We had a lot of rain from time to time, but we don't go for quantity. We need good quality and our customers appreciate that too. We did very well this year."

Brandenburg: Satisfactory final balance
The Kremmen asparagus farm recently harvested asparagus on around 13 hectares of the 200 hectares of land under cultivation. The first early plots were harvested on 26 March. "We are very satisfied with the season," says Managing Director Malte Voigts. Especially in May, the catering trade was running at full speed; the restaurants were "well frequented."

Schleswig-Holstein: Prices mostly at the previous year's level
Asparagus farmers in Schleswig-Holstein have had an average season. They can draw a satisfactory balance, as the Chamber of Agriculture announced on Thursday. Relatively even and moderate temperatures with few hot days had ensured very good quality and consistent quantities throughout the season. However, spring work in the fields was delayed due to prolonged wet conditions. Due to the early date of Easter, only small quantities of asparagus were available from Schleswig-Holstein during the public holidays. In April and May, marketing, 90 per cent of which was direct in the northernmost federal state, was satisfactory. According to the Chamber of Agriculture, the trend of customers mainly buying asparagus at the weekend continued. Prices remained relatively stable at the previous year's level throughout the season.

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