NEW ERA, Mich. — The 2017 Oceana Asparagus Day on March 9 in New Era, Michigan, will host speakers who can help you understand all the ingredients that go into asparagus production. These ingredients are changing as the industry changes and Michigan State University Extension conducts new research to address its needs.
Historically, Michigan asparagus has mostly been canned or frozen, but in recent years production has shifted with increased fresh-market production. As fresh production increases, it will be to the industry’s advantage to increase consumption and find new markets for fresh asparagus while maintaining its foundation of processed production. For this reason, Oceana Asparagus Day will include an update on current flows of Michigan asparagus over time and across the U.S. and highlight future opportunities. There are also more varieties of asparagus available than in past years to meet demand for fresh and processed product. Oceana Asparagus Day will include a discussion of results of research trials, with data on yield and quality of different varieties under Michigan conditions.
Asparagus is challenged by insects, weeds and diseases. MSU Extension conducts research in a unique partnership with the industry to diversify our grower’s toolbox of chemical and non-chemical management tools. This research is especially critical for gathering the data needed to register new pesticides through the specialty crop registration (IR-4) process. Getting new products proactively registered before crises means our growers have multiple tools available if a specific chemistry fails or is no longer available. Oceana Asparagus Day will include updates on weed, insect and disease control, including results of pesticide trials.
Asparagus in Michigan has traditionally been raised on unirrigated ground. However, more growers are now using irrigation. MSU Extension has conducted a long-term trial to investigate the effect of irrigation on yield and quality. Long-term trials are critical for perennial crops like asparagus, as the costs and benefits of a management practice accrue over multiple years with changing weather.