Ministry of Agriculture

Asparagus

WHAT IS ASPARAGUS?

[asparagus]Asparagus is the young, green shoot or stem of the asparagus plant. It is one of the earliest vegetables to appear in the spring. After the harvest season, the shoots are allowed to grow into tall fern-like plants. Asparagus is a fairly good source of vitamin A. It also supplies several of the B vitamins and vitamin C.

WHERE IS ASPARAGUS PRODUCED IN BC?

Asparagus is grown in the Lower Mainland, in the Okanagan Valley, on Vancouver Island and near Creston.

HOW MUCH ASPARAGUS DO WE PRODUCE?

BC produces about 160,000 kilograms which is retailed through farm and roadside sales. BC produces less than 5% of the Canadian total.

HOW IS ASPARAGUS PRODUCED?

The first year, asparagus seeds are planted in late spring. It is important that the seeded area be free of perennial weeds. In this year the asparagus will establish a crown, a root base from which the asparagus shoots will grow. In the second year, growers set out 1 year old asparagus crowns in a 15 cm deep furrow and cover with 4 cm of soil. The third year is the establishment year for asparagus. There are few stems produced and the asparagus crown grows to mature size. Once asparagus plants are mature, shoots are harvested for 6 to 8 weeks in the spring. The stems are cut off at the base of the plant. After harvest the asparagus spears are permitted to grow into fern-like plants. This growth manufactures carbohydrates which are stored in the roots and used to produce new growth the following spring. Established fields are productive for 15 to 20 years.

WHAT DOES ASPARAGUS LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?

Asparagus is sold to stores and restaurants as a fresh vegetable. It is also canned or frozen.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER ASPARAGUS LEAVES THE FARM?

Asparagus needs to be cooled quickly, or the tips will continue to grow, and stored at 0C. From the farm, it is shipped to sales outlets or to processing plants. Fraser Valley Foods has a processing plant at Sardis.

WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THE ASPARAGUS PRODUCER FACE?

Asparagus, like many other crops, needs fertile soil. So growers know exactly what nutrients the soil needs to ensure the best crop, they regularly have the soil tested. This entails taking samples of soil to a laboratory where it is analyzed. The results will indicate the amounts of various nutrients that the soil has in it. From this, the grower decides what additional fertilizer will be needed.

Asparagus growers also face the challenge of high input costs and low prices. They face strong competition from imported asparagus which is available year round as well as competition from other vegetables.

WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING ASPARAGUS?

  • Asparagus grower
  • Sales people
  • Processors

Nutritional Facts

Serving Size: 5 asparagus spears (93g)
Calories 25 Calories from Fat 0
  % Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fibre 2g 8%
Sugars 2g  
Protein 2g  
Vitamin A 10% Vitamin C 15%
Calcium 2% Iron 2%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Interesting Fact About Asparagus:

Asparagus has been grown for over 2000 years for both food and medicinal reasons. In the past, people believed eating asparagus before a meal would refresh and open the liver, spleen and kidney. They also believed it to be good for the eyes.


Contacts and other resources:
 
BC Asparagus Growers' Association
BCMAL - Field Vegetable Information
InfoBasket: Your Portal to Agri-Food Information on the Internet