Asparagus crowns should be grown on fumigated beds

Are you buying asparagus seed to produce crowns to plant in 2013? Look for a crown grower who can plant them on fumigated beds.

Higher prices for both fresh and processed asparagus have caused many growers to consider planting new asparagus fields. Until recently a shortage in high yielding varieties forced many growers to delay replanting decisions. A larger than expected crop of Canadian asparagus seed means that seed of the sought-after variety Millennium will be more available during the spring of 2012 than in recent years. These may lead to an up-surge in planting by Michigan growers.

Because one of the greatest threats that Michigan asparagus production faces, especially in replant situations, is from soil-borne pathogens such as Fusarium and Phytophthora asparagi, it is very important that new crowns enter fields free from these disease-causing microbes. This allows the crowns time to get established and growing before they come into contact with these diseases. Healthy, vigorous crowns are more resistant to these diseases than ones that carry them into a new field from crown nurseries. The best way to insure clean crowns is to grow them on beds that have had levels of these pathogens reduced by fumigation.

If you find yourself in the situation of needing to plant new asparagus fields, you are probably looking for a custom crown grower to grow out the seed you plan to purchase. There are several competent and qualified asparagus crown nursery growers in Western Michigan any of whom can do a good job of producing quality crowns. One of the first questions you should ask any grower you talk to is whether they have space available to grow your crowns in fumigated beds. Because fumigation of asparagus crown beds for spring planting is best done the fall just prior to planting, most growers have only a limited amount of fumigated ground available. The unexpected availability of seed may mean that not everyone looking for space in fumigated nursery beds will be able to find it. That means that if you have already contacted a seed dealer and purchased or spoken for seed, your next call should be to the crown grower of your choice to see if he or she has room for your seed in fumigated beds.

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