Very Early Spear Appears

by Jim COx
(New Bern, NC)


I planted two raised beds last year, mostly three year. I had great growth.

Last weekend a single spear, from a single plant poked up through the surface. Today, 3/18 it is over a foot tall, and a second spear has broken the surface and is really growing.

I understood this would not start until late April or May.

Should I let this early emerger go, or cut back. I think it is now to large for a one spear meal, I was really surprised to see one this early. Our days are 50's and nights are 40s.

Help, please.

Jim Cox
New Bern, NC

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Early Spears
by: Sue

Hi Jim

That certainly looks like rather a lonely spear. So if you are getting 50 F day time temperatures this is about 10 C. Sorry we are Centigrade people over here!! You should expect spears to start appearing after some nice warm sunny days with the temperature getting up above 11 - 13 C so just above 50 F. The sooner the warm weather comes through the sooner you should be on the look out for your spears.

If you only planted last year then you don't want to be cutting this year anyway so I'd just let it grow on. When you say mostly 3 year I assume you mean the crowns were in their 3rd year when they were planted so you can do a bit of harvesting this year but really only cut a few spears from each plant and then let the rest grown on.

You can really look forward to next year. For more information take a look at our Harvest Time page in the menu to the left. Hopefully this will answer other questions you might have.

All the best

Sue

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Harvesting asparagus

by Sue
(VA)

I'm trying to find out when to start looking for wild asparagus to harvest in N.W. VA?

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Wild Asparagus
by: Sue

Hi

Wild Asparagus just like the cultivated variety needs a few sunny days to warm the soil and the temperature to get above 11-13 C (or up into the 50s F) before any shoots will start to appear.

When you have a few days at this temperature its time to start looking although you will probably see more as it gets a bit warmer than this.

We love to see some photos if you find any but don't tell your secret spot! You could also tell us about your finds on our Wild Asparagus Page.

Happy Hunting

Sue

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Harvesting Asparagus

by Christie
(Ft Pierce, FL)

When I planted them the package said they were two years old. That year the plants produced six or seven stalks each that became ferns. This year one plant produced one stalk that became a fern, the other plants has produced four asparagus so far. I cut the first three ( they have come up one at a time) the fourth one has just started. I don't know if I should cut it or let it grow.

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Our Thoughts
by: Sue

Hi There

As you only planted them last year and they are now 3 year old plants I would cut for about 3 weeks. Cut all that come up during this period and then stop and let them grow on.

As it warms up they should start to some through more consistently.

Hope this helps

Sue

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Letting Go

by wing
(washington d.c.)

If I can not harvest asparagus in the first year of spears from seed.
How do I go about it the right ways???

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Harvesting Asparagus
by: Sue

HI

May we suggest you look at our page on Harvesting Asparagus and then our page on Caring for your Asparagus. Hopefully between these two pages you will get to know what you need to do.

If not let us know and we will do our best to help.

Sue

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Did I damage my plants by cutting before they were mature?

by Mary
(Northern Indiana)

I was impatient with my asparagus shoots when they were just a year old. I planted from crowns, and the stalks looked hardy enough. but now in the second year, the stalks are spindly and small. Should I let these stalks go a year without picking, and hope that they grow more hardy for next year? Or should I just go ahead and harvest the spindly shoots?

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More Patience Required
by: Sue

Hi Mary

I am afraid your own diagnosis may well be correct. Thin spears can be the result of a few things (and are not necessarily bad in terms of taste), however, if they result in reduced overall yield then clearly they are not desirable.

Asparagus spears will be thicker if they are planted deeper and / or more widely spaced (but you suggest they were thicker last year so this will not be it).

Asparagus spears will be thinner if the plant is weakened in any way and if you cut too much as you suggest in the first year then this is almost certainly the cause. Your best remedy as you have suggested is to leave them to grow on this year and look forward to a better crop next year.

Also don't forget to add some fertilizer in the autumn.

All the best

Sue

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Do I let the big spears grow?

by dave
(Sioux falls sd)

I'm a beginner, third year.I missed some spears.now they are tall and fat, starting to open. Do I leave them to grow? Thanks for your great site.

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To Cut or Not to Cut ???
by: Sue

Hi - Thank you for your question and kind words. It is early in the season - if you leave these shoots to grow on you will reduce the number of shoots you get to cut this year, if you cut them back you may reduce your cropping potential next year a little unless you stop cutting a bit earlier than you otherwise would.

I guess this would be your first year of full cropping assuming its your 3rd year from 1 year old crowns. I'd suggest only cutting for 4 to 5 weeks maximum if you cut them back.

Hope this helps

Sue

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only one spear each crown

by Lee Busfield
(Herts UK)

Hi it is the end of April and we only have one spear for each crown (3rd year) we haven't harvested any before, should we cut each spear now or wait until there are more?

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Spear Harvesting
by: Sue

Hi Lee

Yes you can start cutting the spears as they come up. The speed and number that come up will increase as it gets warmer. This weeks colder temperatures will have slowed things down a bit.

Cut the spears before they start to open out into ferns even if it means a very small portion.

We hope you get a good crop.

Sue

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2nd Year Cutting

by Chip
(Upstate New York)

Spears are about 6" and growing fast, is it too young to cut or should I harvest and enjoy?

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Patient Harvesting
by: Sue

Hi Chip

If you planted crowns last year (year 1) and this is your second year you have a choice:

Either one stem per plant, cut for two weeks or do not cut at all. The less you cut the better the plants will develop for future years.

If you planted crowns two years ago and called that year 0 so that this is year 2 (This is not how I count it ) then you can cut for 3 - 5 weeks. I suspect this is not the case.

Patience, patience good things come to those who wait!!

Sue

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Deformed and Angled Spears

by Bill
(Michigan)

Some of my spears are not growing straight up, and some are s-shaped at or near the tip. Is this a problem?

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by: Sue

Hi Bill

Unless you want to supply a supermarket with your asparagus spears it really doesn't not matter what shape they are. They will taste just as good. Its only the supermarkets that have got us thinking our veg should be uniform in shape.

Enjoy the variety of shapes!

Sue

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Asparagus

by Debbie
(Finchampstead UK)

Hi,

This year we do not seem to have much asparagus growing.

We left for the first year.
2nd year we only cut a few.
This year we don't have very much.

We have always left the ferns and cut down in Autumn, but we have never removed the berries, which I will start to do.

1) Do we not cut any this year to make it stronger?
2) Do will leave one spear on each crown uncut to make it stronger?
3) Do we cut cut everything that comes up.

I welcome your information and look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Debbie

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Early Days
by: Sue

Hi Debbie

Depending on what variety you have it could be that you are being a bit impatient. It has been quite chilly and some people's crops are only just getting going. The later varieties in particular will only just be getting going and as soon as we get some warmer weather your growth could accelerate. Cut everything that comes up for 3 to 5 weeks this year then let your asparagus ferns grow on. You might be wise to add some fertiliser after you have finished cutting.

I hope you get some better growth shortly.

All the best

Sue

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HARVESTING ASPARAGUS

by ELISABETH
(FERRING SUSSEX UK)


Should I cut down every spear as it grows , or should I be leaving at least one spear per plant to develop into a fern and cut the second and following appearing spears? My plants are all mature.
Thank you for your advice.
Liz

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Asparagus Harvest
by: Sue

Hi Liz

As yours plants are mature you can cut all the asparagus spears for about 8 weeks then leave all of the spears to grow into fern.

Enjoy

Sue

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Need help getting back on track

by Chandra
(Charlotte, NC)

We spent a great deal of time planting the bed and had a great crop year 3 but we didn't fertilize or pick red berries or add compost. Now we are in year 5 and are seeing very little results and lots of small ferns. I am keeping up with the weeds each Saturday. Is there anything I can do to get this bed back on track and producing again?

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Reinvigorating your Asparagus Bed
by: Sue

Hi Chandra

I wonder if you cut for too long in years 3 and 4 as well as not fertilising and letting the berries set seed.

In year 3 you should only have cut for 3 to 5 weeks and last year for 8 weeks. I suggest you pull out the baby ferns if they are clearly not original plants, stop cutting this year after about 4-5 weeks and fertilise your bed after harvesting stops to encourage fern growth this summer.

Add a good layer of compost in the autumn.

So long as you have no disease you stand a good chance of getting your bed back to productivity again.

Sue

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Cut fronds too early

Hi- I cut all the fronds off too early (June). This is year 2. Will they come back next year? Did I completely weaken the plants for years to come?

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Cutting asparagus at the wrong time
by: Sue

Hi

You will not have done your plants much good but if you leave them to grow now and give them a little fertilizer and don't cut them next year at all you might be OK. If you get some decent fern growth next year hopefully all will be well. The following year you should be back in business with a bit of luck.

Fingers crossed

Sue

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New Asparagus

by Brian
(Calgary Alberta Canada)

I just planted asparagus this year,they are growing but there are no spears they are just growing into the ferns and I don't know what to do. Do I just let them grow this year as is or do I cut the ferns off? HELP!

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Let them grow
by: Sue

Hi Brian

Just let them grow into ferns this year. If you planted from crowns you perhaps missed them coming up as spears? They come up as spears but you DO NOT CUT THEM this year so you have done the right thing.

Read our page on harvesting asparagus to see what to do in the next few years.

Sue

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Harvesting asparagus

by Rick
(Ontario)

After four years should you leave at least one spear to grow or will the plant die

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Cut then Leave to grow
by: Sue

In your fourth year you can cut all the spears for 8 weeks then stop cutting and leave all shoots to grow into fern.

Hope this is clear

Sue

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Is my bed lost?

by Jody M Devlin
(New York)

I had a beautiful aspargus bed and normally can harvest through June each year BUT i was away for 2 weeks visiting my family in Texas and came home to find most of the bed had gone to seed even though several friends said they would love to come by and cut i do not believe anyone was able to for whatever reason. Can i cut the bed back or will that do more harm than good? We sure do love our asparagus!!! Thank you for you time and help...JMD

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Missed Asparagus Cutting
by: Sue

Hi Jody

You are not the only one whose asparagus bed sometimes does not get cut when it should.

If you have the same situation earlier in the season you can cut back to encourage new shoots for cutting but then shorten your cutting season by a couple of weeks to be sure your plants have plenty of energy for next seasons harvest.

If as seems to be the case this year you have only a couple of weeks of asparagus cutting left to go I would recommend leaving it to grow and look forward to a good year next year. It does depend how far it has gone to seed though. The more top growth that the plant has put up the more energy it has put into growing that top growth and the more you weaken the plant by cutting it back. If its not gone too far then maybe cut it back and have one last asparagus crop before the end of the season.

Sue

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Cutting Overgrown Spears

by Joe
(Midland, MI)

Went away a few days in mid season and some of our asparagus grew 20 inches. Should I let them go or cut of? Why? If an asparagus spear is tall, does it hurt to snap off just the top tender part? Thanks

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Asparagus that has no been cut
by: Sue

Hi Joe

We have had quite a few questions just like yours. The problem with cutting back asparagus that has "got away" and started to form fern is that the plant has put quite a lot of energy into growing that fern. The asparagus fern is what generates the energy to be stored in the crowns over winter for next years growth. Cutting it off means the plant has to work hard to replace it and overall will be weaker.

You will need to assess how far it has got away the more fern that has grown the bigger the problem. One answer is to cut it back but then to shorten the cutting season by a couple of weeks. If its nearly the end of the season its probably best just to leave it to keep growing.

Hope this helps

Sue

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Harvesting the Year Following Transplanting Older Crowns

by Michael
(Ohio)

Despite all of the warnings, we are about to undertake the transplanting of about 40 6 year old crowns. We understand the risks and will do our best to ensure the roots are treated with care.

The question is about the year following the transplanting. You mention to avoid over cropping the next year. What do you mean by that? If you mean to not harvest a lot, how long do you allow the shoots to get before cutting them to prevent them ferning out?

Thank you.

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It is only March... Harvest Time in California

by JUDY
(West Sacramento, CA)

I live in the Sacramento valley. You likely have heard of our drought conditions, finally we are getting well needed rain. My asparagus is in its 3rd year and it is sprouting now (early March). You mentioned harvesting in May but I don't think I can wait that long. What to do? Do I start my 8 weeks of harvest now?

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Harvest Time
by: Susan

Hi Judy

Harvest time is when your asparagus first shoots up and from what I can gather California (Sacramento Valley is California isn't it?) is one of the first Northern Hemisphere seasons. So yes you can start harvesting now. If you planted crowns you can harvest for a full 8 weeks but check our page on how to harvest asparagus http://www.asparagus-lover.com/harvesting-asparagus.html to make sure you are counting the years correctly and don't over-harvest.

Enjoy

Sue

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