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Easter too early for asparagus farmers in Saxony

Asparagus cultivation workers cover an asparagus stem with foil / Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa/Symbolic image
Asparagus cultivation workers cover an asparagus stem with foil / Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa/Symbolic image

For many, fresh asparagus is a must on the table at Easter. However, it usually takes a little while before the noble vegetable from the region ends up on the plate.

The Easter holidays will probably come too early for most asparagus farmers in Saxony this year. After days of uncertainty, René Heidig from Nieschützer Spargelhof is certain: "We can't yet offer asparagus from our fields for the holidays." The weather has been too cool and rainy over the past few days, with temperatures dropping to minus degrees at night. In order to control the warming of the asparagus stems and thus the harvest volume, the company's ten hectare cultivation area is covered with foil. The work is now complete. "We're in the starting blocks," says Heidig. The hours of sunshine are still missing, "then nature will sort it out." This is not unusual, as the asparagus season usually begins around 20 April.

However, Jürgen Schulze from the Association of East German Asparagus and Berry Growers does not rule out the possibility of the first asparagus spears appearing around Easter in Saxony. "It varies greatly from region to region." In sheltered locations, for example, and with the help of modern cultivation systems, asparagus may well already be growing. The Easter weekend is set to be warm and sunny. "Then it can sometimes happen quickly, from one day to the next," said Schulze.

The soil is evenly moist, so the association expects optimal conditions and good quality asparagus this year. According to the association, in some places the harvest starts around two weeks earlier than normal, and in neighboring Brandenburg the first asparagus has already been harvested for a few days.

In Saxony, gourmets still have to be patient - for example at the Nauwalde asparagus farm. Customers can pick the fine vegetable themselves on an area of five hectares. The idea was born during the coronavirus pandemic, when it was difficult to find skilled workers. "It has worked out well and there is a lot of demand," says Doreen Heinemeyer-Beck from the asparagus farm. That's why the self-harvest will continue this year. Because of the increased labor costs, it is a good alternative to offer asparagus at a "reasonable price". However, Heinemeyer-Beck assumes that the first asparagus cannot be harvested until the beginning of May. The dams are not yet all covered with foil and the soil in the region is still very wet. "Many people associate Easter with asparagus, but this year it's simply too early."

About 20 farms grow asparagus in Saxony. According to preliminary estimates from the Federal Statistical Office, asparagus was grown on an area of around 100 hectares last year and around 400 tons were harvested. The Free State is one of the smallest German growing regions.

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