Several of the most popular asparagus varieties for Minnesota gardeners are being discontinued: Jersey Knight, Jersey Giant and Jersey Supreme. While you may be able to snag a few remaining crowns from an online retailer, it is time to look for different varieties.
Many Minnesota gardeners and farmers have grown fond of the “Jersey” varieties and, in the past, we have widely recommended them for their high yields, cold hardiness and consistent spear size.
While a handful of online retailers may still have limited stock of these varieties left for purchase, growers will no longer be able to source these varieties in general once that limited stock is sold. This is in no way related to COVID-19; it was a decision made by the producer of these varieties back in 2019.
Several high performing hybrid asparagus varieties are still available for growers to order.
Minnesota gardeners should first consider Millennium. Millennium is a high yielding, cold hardy green asparagus variety that has shown great results in Minnesota trials.
Researchers in Michigan report that Millennium can live longer than Jersey varieties. If you plant it now, expect it to still be living and producing spears 15 to 20 years from now.
It is widely grown from Northern Europe to the Pacific Northwest, with 8,000 acres in western Michigan alone.
Other varieties to consider
- Walker Deluxe (hybrid)
- Eclipse (hybrid)
- Mary Washington and Martha Washington
- Purple Passion
Open-pollinated varieties like Mary Washington, Martha Washington and Purple Passion are widely available, but have lower yields and less consistent spear size than the hybrid options.
In general, we recommend ordering crowns rather than seeds. Crowns establish much faster than seeds, have a higher rate of success, and do not need to be started indoors first. However, if you are interested in trying a variety that is only available in seeds, then who are we to stop you? Just understand how to start asparagus seeds before you go too far down that road.
UMN Extension recently released a brand new guide to growing asparagus. The guide is designed for farmers, so there is plenty of information to get you off on the right foot, even if you have a small backyard asparagus patch. This guide is also available in a downloadable PDF format.
Read more about asparagus for commercial growers on the Fruit and Vegetable News blog.