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Katrien De Backer, Amelinckx Fruit:

"Troublesome asparagus season could also affect next year's harvest"

St John's Day traditionally marks the end of the asparagus season. This year too, it will be the finale for the vast majority of growers and traders, but a difficult season has also made some decide to give up earlier. "The absence of sunshine, coupled with low temperatures, really caused low yields and. Also, some consumers opted for leek or chicory instead of asparagus," says Katrien De Backer, part of the Amelinckx Fruit family business in Hingene, Flanders.

It actually started off quite rosy for this seasonal product. "The asparagus started growing early," she continues. "In the first few weeks, this meant that heated cultivation and open ground cultivation came together nicely early, giving us a good supply by Easter, which came early this year. On the other hand, the demand was also there. Asparagus is always eagerly awaited, and that made for nice pricing for both grower and buyer."

'Farmers' festival' on the clock
However, the lack of sunshine and cold temperatures in the weeks that followed threw a spanner in the works. "The rest of the season progressed very slowly and rather hungrily. Asparagus likes night temperatures of at least 10 degrees to reach the preferred length of 21 cm, but they experienced a growth spurt like that maybe twice in the whole season."

In the end, volumes were disappointing during the whole season. "Depending on the regions where the asparagus fields were located, one could speak of a volume loss of 20 to 25 per cent. The abundant precipitation simply flooded some growers' plots for days, weeks or months."

Problems also mean no roots for next year
This season's problems may not be over yet either. "Indeed, it was not only asparagus growers who suffered from the difficult weather conditions," Katrien explains. "Breeders and plant breeders also experienced their share of problems. Seed simply did not germinate in some plots, and no germination means no plant and no roots to plant next year. We will have to see what the future brings."

For more information:
Amelinckx Asparagus & Fruit
Queen Astrid Avenue 171
2880 Hingene, Belgium
Tel.: +32 475 26 99 15
[email protected]

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