We have been lucky enough recently to visit a range of asparagus businesses across Spain and get a deeper insight into their industry for this crop. It is certainly a country where there is a great deal going on with asparagus production.
Estimates suggest that there are 12-15.000 hectares of asparagus planted in the nation and these are spread across a number of main areas. The region surrounding Granada is the most well-known and accounts for the greatest volume of production, around 60% of the crop is planted in this territory. Other important locations are Extremadura, Guadalajara and pockets of production located in other parts of Andalusia.
A key reason for the crop being planted in all these places is with a view to extend the harvest season for as long as possible. With the aid of protected growing environments and improved asparagus hybrids, the harvest now starts from mid-late December and continues into early July. Further, there is additional production that is harvested during the autumn from specialised growing systems. A normal harvest season from each plot would be 90 days.
The vast majority of production in the country is with green asparagus. It accounts for approximately 90% of the total figure with white asparagus making up almost all of the rest. The trend towards more green production has been ongoing for many years and is the result of market demands. There remains a great opportunity to develop the domestic market for asparagus. Currently, less than 10% of the asparagus crop is sold and consumed within Spain itself.
Growers, on average, are planting 22000 plants per hectare, but there is a trend for this figure to increase. Improving yields is an important consideration for the future of Spanish asparagus growing. One reason that this is even more pertinent is these days is with the increase in the minimum wage that has affected harvesting costs. Those producers with sophisticated irrigation are currently able to harvest at least 6.5t of green asparagus per hectare. More modern growing techniques can see this figure get much closer to 10t.
We look forward to continuing to work with growers and nurseries across Spain as we develop our range of improved asparagus varieties for the benefit of the industry itself and consumers of the product.
Stay tuned for more asparagus developments from Global Plant Genetics.