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Asparagus Study Tour to Ontario and Michigan

20 July 2023

Together with our partners from Fox Seeds in Ontario, Canada, we recently arranged an asparagus study tour to two of the most important production regions of Canada and the USA, namely Ontario and Michigan. We were delighted to be joined by an excellent and highly knowledgeable group of growers, consultants, nurseries, breeders, and crop specialists from seven countries around the world.

While in Ontario, we visited the province’s largest asparagus producers and packers / marketers. All plantings within the territory are established with Guelph asparagus hybrids and we witnessed an increase in the use of the Guelph Equinox variety, much like we are also seeing in other parts of the world. In addition, we were shown around the new breeding facilities of Fox Seeds and received excellent presentations from the outgoing asparagus breeder from The University of Guelph, Dr David Wolyn and another from Cindy Rouet who has taken on the asparagus breeding role as the programme has transitioned to Fox Seeds. Following the presentations, we were also able to walk through the new hybrid trials in order to get a closer look at what is coming next from the breeding programme.

In Michigan, we were superbly hosted by Ben Werling and John Bakker, well-known to many in the asparagus world as the leading experts on the crop in their home state. Here, we saw asparagus production and harvesting using the “snapping” technique common to the region but almost unseen anywhere else in the world. This was accompanied by a range of excellent technical crop presentations where we heard some cutting-edge developments in crop protection, weed management and nutrition. No asparagus visit to Michigan can be considered complete without the sampling of John’s superb, deep-fried asparagus and this time was no different as we were treated to some of his excellent culinary skills once more.

All in all, it was a great trip and we will endeavour to put on more events in the future to help our asparagus friends stay at the forefront of production of the crop.

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