The asparagus season in the U.S. has been delayed due to cold weather and rain. The season usually starts in March, continuing till June, however, this year around, rains and cold weather have meant that the asparagus season has been delayed.
The impact of cold weather on the asparagus season is quite visible in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Due to the late start, farmers are predicting a lower output than 2016, but some believe it’s too early to say, given there is still time to expect a higher yield. This is especially true for Washington farmers, as they look at achieving higher yields from farms measuring 4,000 acres. In 2016, demand for asparagus in North America was valued at 2 million metric tonnes.
In Michigan, mid-May to mid-June is considered the best time for asparagus cultivation. Unlike Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, farm owners in Michigan are happy that the weather remained favourable to them. Bulk of asparagus produced in Michigan is shipped to Mississippi.
The increase in minimum wage is expected to have an impact on asparagus farm owners, as it has become increasingly difficult to find labour. Many farm owners are now turning to advanced equipment to deal with twin issues of lack of skilled labour and higher operational costs.
In addition to labour challenges, farm owners also have to deal with the foreign threat. Mexico and Peru, other asparagus producing nations, can pose stiff competition to US growers.
The prices for asparagus vary from location to location, but on an average, they sell at $58 for a 28-pound box. According to a recent research report by Future Market Insights, the global asparagus demand will surpass 10 million metric tonnes in 2017. The firm values global asparagus sales at $37 billion in 2017.
Outside of the Americas, global asparagus production is dominated by China. On account of strong production and sales in China, Asia Pacific is considered a lucrative market for asparagus globally. Western Europe, as a region, is one of the world’s largest in terms of revenue, owing to increased awareness levels among consumers.
A key trend among asparagus producers is direct selling of their stock. This gives them higher prices, as the cut of middlemen is done away with. However, asparagus production remains a capital-intensive process, with storage and processing amounting to a significant cost to farm owners.