Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board's Jamie Clover Adams Discusses Domestic Program
MICHIGAN - We’re heading into the heat of summertime here in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means a shift in the produce department. As shoppers look for summer recipes, one of the top candidates is none other than asparagus. Grilled, roasted, or sautéed, asparagus becomes a produce aisle staple for many.
To learn all I could about this year’s domestic asparagus program, I turned to Jamie Clover Adams, Executive Director of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board.
“We expect harvest to begin in our primary growing area around May 15. Harvest in southwest Michigan is expected to begin 10 days or so earlier. However, spear emergence and growth are impacted by weather. Since we’ve had unseasonably cooler weather throughout April, this could shift out a few days,” Jamie told me. “We expect excellent quality and volumes this season for a couple of reasons. First, our asparagus growing region had great rains this spring that have provided ideal moisture conditions. In addition, the cool conditions we’ve seen this past month ensure less chance of crop loss due to a freeze.”
The season peak traditionally occurs around Memorial Day, and suppliers are expecting a similar date this year.
The importance of this peak is notable for retailers and foodservice operators looking to stock up on domestically grown asparagus. Michigan asparagus in particular is known as being flavor-filled, nutrient-dense, and low-calorie, making it a highly sought-after vegetable.
“It is great on the grill and as a side dish to your favorite protein or included with a breakfast quiche or cooked in an air fryer,” Jamie added. “Michigan asparagus is also sustainable. It’s 1–4 days old when purchased and is watered by Mother Nature. Michigan’s asparagus growers are reliable suppliers with decades of expertise growing asparagus.”
Those growing asparagus can be found along Lake Michigan, and a significant amount of volume comes from Oceana County in addition to the counties of Cass, Mason, and Van Buren.
“Growing asparagus in Michigan requires our growers to be strategic and flexible,” Jamie explained to me. “These skill sets are serving them well in the current high input cost environment. However, costs will remain high until we see a return to normal in our global supply chains for fertilizer and crop protection products. We are hopeful that U.S. retail buyers will see the purchase of Michigan asparagus at a fair price as an opportunity to meet their publicized commitments to sustainability and support for local growers.”
Although Michigan growers are committed to feeding the American public, as Jamie noted, they’re facing the challenges of high input costs and securing fertilizer and crop protection products—all of which create a challenging environment to grow crops.
Undaunted, Michigan asparagus growers are gearing up for the strong demand heading into the Memorial Day holiday with a favorable forecast.
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