Growing asparagus is one of the more unique but enjoyable vegetables. Many people walk the ditch banks in the spring and look for the tender young spouts. But more people are beginning to grow asparagus for their own table. But have you thought about growing asparagus for profit? as a cash crop?
Growing asparagus is a long-term investment. It takes between two and three years for the plants to reach full maturity. You may have some plants in the 2nd year, but the first full crop will be in the third year from the date of planting. In the early spring of the 2nd year, cut the old ferns down to ground level. Then watch and control weeds all season and maintain good soil moisture. Watch carefully for the asparagus beetle.
If you crop is not too large, you may also consider planting tomatoes among the rows. You might want to read our article that Tomatoes and asparagus are natural companion plants.
Research has shown that you can begin to harvest asparagus the year after it is established. You can cut all of the first spears that appear for the first 7-10 days. Then, when the spears begin to get thinner, you need to stop harvesting. During the 3rd year, you can follow the same pattern, but you should be able to harvest for a full 4 weeds. By the fourth year after planting, you should be able to harvest a full 8 weeks. To cut this a little shorter, you can buy 1-year-old spears from reputable dealers.
Once established, however, asparagus will yield abundantly for 15 to 20 years if given the proper care.
Asparagus grows best in sandy, well drained soil. But the soil is best maintained with lots of organic material to maintain moisture levels more consistently without allowing the soil to be waterlogged.
Because early crops bring the highest price, you may consider using row covers such as “reemay” to warm the soil for earlier growth. Average commerical yeilds are 2000 pounds per acre, with intensive yields of up to 6000 pounds per acre.
A couple of final tips. During the harvest, you need to make sure that you give the roots adequate water. Make sure that the asparagus roots receive 2″ to 3″ of water per week. Be careful not to cut too deep an damage the emerging spears by cutting below the surface.