Michigan asparagus harvest end in sight

A Michigan asparagus grower says marketing opportunities have been much more stable this harvest season.

Fifth-generation farmer Steve Riley tells Brownfield the last six weeks have been cooler than normal and ideal for asparagus picking.

“Yields have been good,” he shares. “We really didn’t see that monstrous spike like we see every year. It was more of a gradual bell curve on that production, and I think that’s really helped our marketing on the fresh end. And I think it’s really helped to extend our season probably by another week.”

He says import pressure from Peru and Mexico has also not flooded the market during the season.

“We’ve continued to pick fresh all season long without taking a break due to either declining markets or the oversupply,” he explains. “It’s really been a positive thing this year not having that pressure.”

Riley says this year the farm focused more on quality for the fresh market to overcome pricing risks and high labor costs mandated by the Department of Labor for using the H-2A guestworker program.

“We’ve really been discouraged with our efforts with our politicians to get something changed,” he says. “There seems to be a lack of desire at the DOL level to help us at all.”

Riley also grows tart cherries and apples in Mears.

Michigan is the nation’s leading asparagus producer.

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