This week, the first German asparagus was harvested in Waldfeucht near Aachen. The operation of the Janßen family grows there on more than 40 hectares of white and green asparagus. Since a portion of the acreage can be heated, the first asparagus there is harvested up to six weeks before the general start of harvest in mid-April.
“We are not the only company in Germany that operates heated fields, but we have already had 10 years of experience with this, and one needs a certain amount of intuition on when to heat the fields,” says Herbert Janßen. With the spring-like weather of the last weeks, Janßen is very early: “Even for us, we are one week earlier than usual, and the green asparagus is already harvested and will come on the market next week.”
The expectations for this season are mixed, after a very poor past year for the vegetables: “The market was simply oversaturated, to which came the warm weather as well: Many farms have now reduced the acreage and some had to give up asparagus altogether. That means we are very excited what this year’s season will bring.” He hopes for less volume in the market and somewhat more changeable weather.
Regarding foreign goods, Janßen sees no competition: “We are so early with our German asparagus, that goods from Greece or the Netherlands only see small sales. The consumer prefers German asparagus and regional products.” In order to diversify, the Janßen family is increasingly focusing on green asparagus: “As we are so early with the white asparagus, we always receive requests for green asparagus, which we have now reacted to.” The early cultivation of the green product was a bit trickier -despite heating measures-, since the entire production could be destroyed by frost.
The prices of asparagus are seeing mediocre levels. On the wholesale market, the lots from Waldfeucht get 8 to 12 euros, depending on quality and variety. “In our region, this is related to the festival of carnival and many traders will not bring out their asparagus until after carnival. We’ll have to wait and see.” Another factor is the weather: Traditionally, sales of asparagus are better in in sunny conditions than during rainy weather, which is now being announced.
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