Michigan asparagus shipments have been underway for a month and should continue through the end of June from the west-central area of the state.
The Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board in Dewitt, MI notes loadings have been lagging because cool weather limited picks of asparagus fields to about 11-12 harvest sessions through late May, compared to normal tallies of 15-16.
Last year processed asparagus accounted for about 60 percent of the volume, although there is less processing demand this year. That is expected to result in more fresh shipments. One estimate has fresh shipments accounting for about 75 percent of the volume with product for processing making up the balance.
The USDA census report notes Michigan’s asparagus acreage was 12,285 acres in 2017, up from 9,405 acres in 2012 and 12,127 acres in 2007. Acreage has gone down compared with 1997, when 18,266 acres of asparagus were harvested in the state. About 9,500 acres were planted this year.
Michigan’s primary competition comes from Mexico and Peru during the May to June shipping window, although imports haven’t been big this year. Last season, May volume accounted for 33 percent of total fresh shipments and June accounted for about 67 percent of total annual volume.
Michigan’s fresh shipments of 385,000 28-pound equivalent crates in 2018 compared with 421,000 crates in 2017 and 417,000 crates in 2016.
In 2018, Michigan accounted for about 32 percent of total domestic asparagus shipments, trailing Washington (49 percent), but well ahead of California (19 percent).
However, both Mexico and Peru have big year-round volume coming to the U.S., and last year May to June U.S. imports from those two countries were seven times bigger than Michigan’s shipments in those two months.