New bulletin provides updated cost of production for Michigan asparagus

Get insights about costs and returns of asparagus production from a new, free MSU Extension bulletin.

New bulletin provides updated cost of production for Michigan asparagus

Michigan State University Extension has developed a new, free bulletin that provides information on asparagus production costs and returns. “Costs and Returns for Producing Michigan Asparagus” (E3315) provides budgets for each year of an asparagus stand’s life. Data are based on 2015 production information, collected with the help of Michigan asparagus growers and industry members.

What are some key lessons learned in the 2015 cost of production? First, asparagus is truly a long-term investment: We estimated it takes eight years to repay negative cash flows incurred during establishment. Second, as a long-term investment, inputs such as fumigation that appear pricey up-front actually have a relatively small cost over the life of a stand. For example, although fumigation can cost over $600 per acre, the annual cost over 12 bearing years was only around $68 per acre. We estimated it only takes an extra 100 pounds per year of fresh-market asparagus to pay this cost. This means its large, upfront cost can be repaid with modest improvements in yields.

Another important lesson is the importance of stand longevity. Longer-lived stands should improve profitability by increasing the number of years with positive cash flows.

Costs and Returns for Producing Michigan Asparagus” also highlights changes in the industry that have occurred since the last study was accomplished in 2009. One of the largest changes has been the shift towards increased production of asparagus for fresh as well as traditional processed markets. Grower interviews also supported the idea that current hybrids and management practices are supporting higher peak yields, with prime yields lasting for more years than in the past. Costs of some inputs such as fertilizer have decreased, but costs for other inputs have increased. Overall, the budgets show that asparagus can be profitable with good peak yields and prices under 2015 conditions.

Data for this bulletin represent costs and returns from 2015 for west Michigan production. We encourage you to compare your own costs and returns to these estimates to better understand the economics of production on your farm.

Thank you to the Michigan asparagus industry and MSU Extension for supporting this work.

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