Sex and the Single Asparagus

When planting new asparagus fields, the advantages of choosing the newest Rutgers hybrid male varieties far outweigh the disadvantage of increased cost. We asked Steve Garrison, Rutgers Professor Emeritus, to discuss the benefits of these new, expensive varieties that will be increasingly offered by seed companies worldwide since Rutgers NJAES recently both licensed and sold its asparagus-breeding program. Finally, we test your memory of high school biology describing how 45 years of genetics and technologies research made hybrid all-male asparagus production fields possible.

Rutgers Hybrid Male Asparagus Variety Benefits

Asparagus spears emerging in a field of Rutgers NJAES all-male hybrid asparagus

Rutgers Hybrid Male Asparagus

According to Dr. Garrison, the best Rutgers hybrid males out-yield females by 15-25% over time – the differences increasingly apparent after the 2nd and 3rd years. One reason for this is that the male plants do not produce fruits (seeds) which would divert crop energy resources away from future stalk growth. Hybrid male asparagus emerge earlier in spring under colder soil conditions than females. In addition, hybrid male production fields are longer-lived. Compared with females, the hybrid male stalks fetch better prices due to a higher percentage of yield pack out of desirable USDA No.1 Grade diameters of medium and large. In asparagus, the larger diameter spears have superior culinary qualities of tenderness and sweetness. [Read more…]

Farm Calls: Sweet Corn Varieties & Postharvest Capability

Recently, a sweet corn grower considering new marketing opportunities asked:

“I don’t farm enough sweet corn acreage to support a hydro cooler or package icing equipment for rapid field heat removal at harvest. 
With less than ideal postharvest handling cooling equipment, which varieties should I consider growing if I want to maximize both marketable shelf life and eating quality in order to win repeat sales from direct market and wholesale customers?”

[Read more…]

Farm Calls: Beginning Farmer Questions on Farm Leasing

Ivory-Harlow-Leasing-Land-Farm&Dairy

This month, a Rutgers grad from a couple of years back, called to say she was well on the road to fulfilling a dream she had talked about in Sustainable Ag class. She has worked hard to save up grubstake capital to begin her part-time farming enterprise, and located a rentable farm near her current “day job.”
Before entering into negotiations with the owner she asks,

“How do I properly value and negotiate farm lease terms that include using the owner’s working farm in addition to renting farmland.”

[Read more…]

Roller Crimper Tips for NJ Growers

Roller Crimper in Action

A Roller Crimper in Action

Roller Crimpers offer superior benefits with reduced inputs to vegetable growers who use them along with herbicides, producing better quality main season crops such as pumpkin, winter squash, and processing tomato.

The dense cover crop mat acts as a contact barrier between fruit and soil, minimizing fruit defects and splash disseminated diseases that affect marketing. We share lessons learned during our four years of experience using the roller crimper. Armed with this knowledge, decide if Roller Crimper use fits into your operation. [Read more…]