ASPARAGUS VARIETY PERFORMANCE

Erik B.G. Feibert, Clinton C. Shock, Lamont Saunders, and Greg Willison
Malheur Experiment Station
Oregon State University
Ontario, Oregon

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Introduction

Acreage of asparagus for canning has expanded in the western Treasure Valley since 1994. This trial compared the performance of varieties in the Treasure Valley of eastern Oregon.

Methods

Asparagus crowns of 5 varieties (Table 1) were planted at the Malheur Experiment Station on an Owyhee silt loam soil on April 7, 1994. The crowns were dipped in a liquid mixture of Benlate at 1% (v/v) and Captan at 1/2% (v/v) and planted 8 inches apart in trenches 12 inches deep and 5 feet apart. Plots were four rows wide and 40 feet long and arranged in a randomized complete block design with 6 replicates. The field was sprinkler irrigated until the spears emerged (April 18, 1994); thereafter, furrow irrigation was used. Furrow irrigations were run as necessary on every furrow (every 5 feet). The field was fertilized with 50 lb N/acre as broadcast urea in May 1994 and with water-run urea at 15 lb N/acre in 1995, and 56 lb N/acre in 1996. The field was hand weeded twice in 1996 to control volunteer asparagus. The first harvest season was in 1996. Spears were picked 8 times from April 8 to April 30. The harvest was terminated on April 30 because of declining spear diameter. In 1997 spears were harvested from April 2 to May 5. The field was hand weeded twice in 1997 to control volunteer asparagus.

The minimum spear length for harvest was 6 inches measured from ground level to spear tip. Spears from the central 20 feet of each of the middle 2 rows in each plot were cut using asparagus knives then graded immediately. Spears were graded and weighed by class (US Number One and US Number Two) and by diameter 5 inches from the tip (small: less than 6/16 inch, medium: 6/16 to 8/16 inch, large: 8/16 to 10/16 inch, mammoth: 10/16-13/16 inch, and colossal: 13/16 to 16/16 inch) according to USDA standards for canning asparagus. Spears were graded by class based on straightness and head compactness. Damage by asparagus beetle feeding was not taken into account when grading. Data were analyzed by analysis of variance; means separation was determined by the protected least significant difference test.

Results and Discussion

Spears were harvested for 4.5 weeks in 1997. Total yield, over all varieties, averaged 2458 lb/acre in 1997, up from 920 lb/acre in 1996 as can be expected from a second year of harvest.

Del Monte 361 had the highest yield for grades total US Number One, and Mammoth US Number One in 1997 (Table 1). Del Monte 361 was among the highest in US Number One Large yield. Del Monte 361 had the highest total yield followed by Jersey Giant. Asparagus contracted with American Fine Foods is paid as all US Number One if less than 10% of the total is US Number Two. The proportion of US Number Two yield was low for all varieties (close to 10 percent) and the differences between varieties were not statistically significant.

Over the two years (1996 and 1997), Del Monte 361 had the highest total yield followed by Jersey Giant and Mary Washington (Table 2). Over the two years, Del Monte 361 and Jersey Giant were the highest yielding in US Number One spears. Over the two years, Del Monte 361 had the highest yield of US Number One mammoth spears and was among the highest yielding in US Number One colossal spears.

Volunteer asparagus infestations in the plots with male-only varieties (Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight) were almost negligible compared to the other varieties.

In 1996, adults of the asparagus beetle (Crioceris asparagii) caused extensive feeding damage to the spears emerging during harvest. The beetle adults were also observed feeding on the ferns later in the season. One application of rotenone at 0.4 lb ai/acre immediately after harvest and two applications of Lannate at 0.6 lb ai/acre during the season in 1996 were used for beetle control. Damage to the spears from feeding by the asparagus beetle was minimal in 1997 and was substantially less than in 1996.

Table 1. Yield and grade of five asparagus varieties harvested from April 2 to May 5, 1997, from plantings on April 7, 1994. Malheur Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Ontario, Oregon.

Variety ---------- US Number One ---------- ---------- US Number Two ---------- Culls Total

yield

Small Medium Large Mammoth Colossal Total Small Medium Large Mammoth Colossal Total Proportion 

of total yield

---------- lb/acre ---------- % --- lb/acre ----
Jersey Giant 182.7 891.4 829.4 275.3 30.8 2,209.5 5.3 58.9 69.5 56.3 4.2 194.3 7.9 85.2 2,489.1
Jersey Knight 96.5 477.1 399.9 139.9 19.7 1,133.2 13.3 57.7 49.9 27.4 0.0 148.4 12.1 61.4 1,342.9
M. Washington 181.9 751.0 641.6 283.0 62.0 1,919.4 15.3 123.9 141.0 43.8 13.2 337.1 13.9 175.5 2,432.0
UC 157 210.4 692.3 582.6 329.9 107.5 1,922.7 19.0 83.6 101.8 47.3 6.6 258.3 10.9 182.2 2,363.1
Del Monte 361 380.6 1,190.6 945.0 477.6 86.1 3,080.1 23.5 129.8 114.1 58.0 14.6 340.1 9.3 241.4 3,661.5
LSD (0.05) 73.1 179.1 178.1 108.4 29.8 397.5 11.5 42.5 53.3 NS NS 104.3 NS 72 478.8

Table 2. Total accumulated yield and grade of five asparagus varieties harvested in 1996 and 1997, from plantings on April 7, 1994, Malheur Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Ontario, Oregon.

Variety ---------- US Number One ---------- ---------- US Number Two ---------- Culls Total

yield

Small Medium Large Mammoth Colossal Total Small Medium Large Mammoth Colossal Total
---------- lb/acre ----------
Jersey Giant 350.4 1,413.1 1,137.3 378.3 33.9 3,312.8 15.4 91.6 103.7 61.8 4.2 276.7 229.6 3,819.1
Jersey Knight 178.7 704.1 545.3 188.3 22.2 1,638.7 23.7 80.5 69.9 39.0 2.7 215.8 112.5 1,966.9
M. Washington 363.5 1,096.2 813.9 335.6 64.6 2,673.8 29.6 157.8 159.5 62.0 13.2 422.2 395.5 3,491.5
UC 157 326.3 895.4 631.6 337.8 107.5 2,298.6 29.1 101.6 107.0 47.3 6.6 291.5 335.9 2,925.9
Del Monte 361 543.5 1,541.9 1,083.8 519.0 88.4 3,776.5 50.9 173.0 139.0 65.5 14.6 442.9 465.6 4,685.1
LSD (0.05) 111.8 241.5 210.3 128.9 61.4 557.5 20.0 50.0 NS NS NS 122.3 102.4 672.8


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For additional information about the Malheur Agricultural Experiment Station, please send an e-mail request to:
Dr. Clinton C. Shock
Clinton.Shock@orst.edu

Malheur Agricultural Experiment Station

595 Onion Avenue
Ontario, OR 97914
(541) 889-2174

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Last updated 12-26-1999.