Harsh weather threatens Oxfordshire asparagus crop

Yulian Korkinski, who manages the asparagus crop at Millets Farm Picture: OX58175 Steve Wheeler

David Markham

First published in News Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

OXFORDSHIRE’S asparagus may not make dinner plates this spring following our harsh winter.

The valuable crop is at least three to four weeks late across the county’s farms.

Asparagus grower Yulian Korkinski, 39, from Millets Farm, Frilford, near Abingdon, said it might raise the price of one of the county’s best-loved vegetables.

He said: “It is worrying. They are moving very slowly. The nights are just too cold for them and during the day it is not the right temperature either.

“Last year we were working in the fields in shirts and shorts but not now, it is far too cold.

“We dug into the ground a week ago to see how they were doing and they were not growing well, and the forecast is not good for the next few days and weeks either, especially with snow due.

“It is an important crop. It is very valuable for the farm shop and the farmers’ markets. Asparagus sells for about £8 per kilo but this year it could be even more expensive, more like £10 per kilo. We will have to see.”

Mr Korkinski grows about an acres worth of asparagus but says the yield should not drop, it will just be late.

Farmer David Markham, from Markham Farms in Newton Purcell, supplies Fresh Direct in Bicester with asparagus.

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His asparagus goes to nearby The Muddy Duck pub in Hethe as well as exclusive London shops such as Harrods.

Fresh Direct’s soil and crop scientist, Jeff Layton, said: “We are all a little pessimistic at the moment due to the cold, dull weather but when we have some warm sunny days our optimism will return and we will be willing the asparagus spears to start poking through the soil.

“The fields at Markham’s Farms were inspected last week and the asparagus is still below the soil waiting for some heat to warm it up and initiate the development of the asparagus spears.

“The first main harvests of asparagus usually commence around St George’s Day on April 23 but for it to be ready for this time there needs to be a few weeks with above average temperatures.

“When the weather is warm asparagus spears can grow six inches in 12 hours.”

The best weather for asparagus is light rain with more than 10 degrees Celsius at night and 20 degrees during the day.

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