Asparagus is grown on about 22,000 hectares in Germany, while the vegetable grows on just over 3,000 hectares in the Netherlands, according to John Schuurman. He is responsible at Enza Zaden for the Daleza F1 variety, which was introduced in 2020. "Many plant propagators are concentrated in the southeast of the Netherlands, close to the German border. This is significant in that the asparagus seeds are not sold directly to growers, but to those propagators who create an 'asparagus crown' that is sown and harvested in the course of a year, from April to April," Schuurman explains.
John Schuurman at Enza Zaden's 19th Gemüsebau-Feldtag (Vegetable Growing Field Day) in Dannstadt-Schauernheim, Germany.
"Daleza is the first asparagus variety from Enza Zaden and was launched in 2020. It is an early to medium-early variety. In the early range, it is characterized by good stem strength. This is important because with strong asparagus spears it is possible to find a balance between harvesting costs and selling price on the market: Harvesters are able to harvest a kilo of asparagus faster, which means the selling price is lower. In addition, consumers are also interested in asparagus with a thickness of 20 to 22 mm." However, the new variety stands out for its earliness, as well as its uniform spear size and consistent quality, which also helps minimize losses, Schuurman says. "The taste is also excellent, which makes it well suited for farm-gate sales."
Once the asparagus plant is planted, it can be harvested after one year. "However, in the first year, a full harvest is not possible. It's not until the following year that you get to full harvest. The asparagus crown carries a weight of 80 to 120 grams, which is uprooted and resold to growers. This intermediate step is important because an asparagus plant must persist for eight to ten years and so must each plant. With direct seeding, again, you often have problems with misalignment." Schuurman also stresses that asparagus is a crop that requires a lot of manual labor and correspondingly higher labor costs. "Therefore, every plant has to be robust and produce good spears, and every spot has to be in production."
The new asparagus variety was also already in the spotlight at this year's Interaspa in Sandhatten. Pictured: John Schuurman and Michel Neefs.
On the development of asparagus varieties at Enza Zaden
Breeding a new asparagus variety can take up to eight years, the asparagus expert points out. When breeding, Enza Zaden tries to make sure to develop varieties that minimize the use of additives as much as possible. "We are working on varieties through which the use of fertilizers and pesticides can be limited in the future, but despite this, the plants remain healthy and thrive well, and long-term yields can be achieved."
Trials have been made in the green asparagus sector, but they are still primarily focused on Daleza, he said. "We have a large farm where we have a lot of options with Molelukar or tissue culture, among others, to push cycles faster. It's definitely important to collect data for cultivation. But it's at least as important to also look at the plants directly. Because if you just look at the data, you could easily be wrong about the variety."
"Asparagus has a future, it also always carries a story. I don't know any vegetable that carries so much history and feelings. But not only in Germany, but also in the Netherlands as well as in France, as well as in North America, where green asparagus plays a role. The difference with other vegetables, is that asparagus is often the main product in a meal. Asparagus is actually an affordable product for many people. The peeled product in particular is gaining more recognition."
For more information: