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Northwest Farmers Hoping Asparagus Will Get Growing Soon

Anna King
Northwest News Network
Farmers and packers say the asparagus has come on slow this year due to the cold, wet spring.

An unusually cold and wet spring has Northwest asparagus growers anxious because the crop isn’t coming up. Large asparagus packing houses say they’re down hundreds-of-thousands of pounds so far this spring from normal.

Asparagus season is really short. In June, two things halt harvest: Searing temperatures unfurls the fern heads -- making them low-quality. And at the same time, workers leave asparagus fields in droves for higher-paying jobs in cherry orchards. ?

Yakima Valley asparagus farmer Norm Inaba said he’s worried that he won’t make his numbers by June with this season’s slow growth. ?

“We’re probably the latest we’ve ever been for asparagus,” he said. “The latest that I can remember. So it will be an interesting year.”

But Inaba said that the quality of the crop has been excellent and when the weather warms up -- he might make up some ground. He also said the slow start has meant grocery stores now have room for Washington asparagus -- because they’ve sold through their foreign produce.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.