Asparagus represents an interesting diversification opportunity for Saskatchewan vegetable growers. Demand for asparagus is always strong at local farmer’s markets. There is also interest in the crop at the retail level as local asparagus is ready just as the major production regions in California and Washington are finishing up for the season.
Selection of the best variety is critical for successful asparagus production, as a good patch will produce for two decades. In 1996, the University of Saskatchewan commenced a variety evaluation program for asparagus. Over 20 varieties were planted including old standards like Martha Washington and Viking, as well as many of the new all male lines including several from the Jersey series and some then un-named lines from the asparagus breeding program at Guelph. Unfortunately, the trial was attacked by Fusarium crown rot in 1998 and by 2000 much of the patch had died out due to this disease. Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight appeared to be the most resistant to the Fusarium, but after 3 years less than 20% of these plants were still standing.
Horticulture Nova Scotia has recently published yield and quality results for 6 years in a similar asparagus variety trial. They found that two of the Guelph lines (Guelph Millennium and Guelph Tiessen) performed best. These lines also performed well in Ontario trials. However, all of the Guelph lines are more sensitive to Fusarium than Jersey Giant. Therefore, growers considering planting asparagus must balance disease resistance issues against yield potential when making their variety selection.
Source : Horticulture Nova Scotia Vegetable Research and Variety Trials for 2002.