May 18, 2021Michigan asparagus season kicks off after cool start
Consumers have been eagerly awaiting the 2021 crop of Michigan asparagus and will now be rewarded with the seasonal favorite now at their local stores. Given unexpected cooler temperatures at the traditional start of the season, the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board announced May 18 that the main production area of West-central Michigan started harvesting and packing this week.
Although the state was gearing up for a Mother’s Day “normal” season start Mother Nature had her own plans. While days had been warm, temperatures dropped to near or below freezing many nights, delaying the start of harvest for about a week. The “pre-season” had light volumes from the Southernmost part of the state that found their way into only the local markets. The cool spring weather provided growers with some extra time to prepare fields and complete beginning of season tasks like mowing and fertilizer application.
Now, Michigan asparagus season is officially underway: quality, volumes and pricing will be similar to last season with peak volumes in late May and early June. The popular vegetable currently claims the number one spot for total asparagus production in the U.S., including both fresh and processed.
“Because asparagus depends on weather, it does tend to be somewhat unpredictable,” Jamie Clover Adams, the new executive director of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board (MAAB), said in a news release. “But as all our Michigan asparagus fans out there will tell you, it is a veggie that is well-worth the wait.”
Last year’s asparagus season kicked off during the time that Americans were encouraged to stay at home to flatten the curve. Although we saw shortages in meat and toilet paper, fresh produce came out on top. With people cooking at home more, there was a huge demand for vegetables all around. While things are returning to a more normal state in parts of the country, demand for Michigan asparagus is still high, with many consumers asking for it specifically at their local retailers.
With people cooking more at home than ever, the MAAB secured partnerships with social media influencers who developed various recipes for different palates during the 2020 season which will continue during the 2021 season and are available at www.michiganasparagus.org, with new recipes added each week.
“Over the past year, consumers have found themselves at home with a need and want to cook more, but oftentimes not knowing what to do in the kitchen,” Clover Adams said. “We want to show those consumers that cooking doesn’t have to be tricky and you can have delicious and healthy meals in minutes. Taking the guesswork out of cooking means less frustration and more nutrients onto their plates.”
And of course, buying local continues to be important and not just a buzzword. Less miles traveled and a shorter supply chain, coupled with supporting local, family-owned businesses and sustainability efforts are all practices that will not be going away.
Retailers who want to carry Michigan asparagus in their stores can contact the MAAB or visit the website for a list of available suppliers.
The MAAB focuses on educating consumers on the importance of buying local versus imported asparagus and its plethora of health benefits. The board will roll out new content daily and host weekly giveaways via social media contests throughout May and June.