Jul 2, 2012
Washington asparagus yields lower than expected because of labor shortage

A cool spring helped Tri-City farmers grow quality asparagus, but farmers said yields were lower than anticipated, partly because of a struggle to find enough workers.

Bryan Lynch, co-owner of LF Farms north of Pasco, said weather conditions were better than last year.

Asparagus harvest wrapped up in mid-June, as farm workers in Benton and Franklin counties switched to cherries. The harvest season lasted almost 60 days for some farmers.

Most of the state's 100 asparagus growers farm in Benton, Franklin, Yakima, Walla Walla and Grant counties. About 70 percent of the state's asparagus is grown in Benton and Franklin counties. That amounts to about 4,000 acres.

Lynch estimates he was short by about 50 workers this year, even with the 250 he had. And with new fields in their third season next year — when full harvest begins — worker needs will remain high. The News Tribune

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