Varieties of Asparagus

Most asparagus plants come in both male and female stalks. The female stalks attempt to produce seeds, which diverts them from spear production.1 The old reliable variety known as "Martha Washington" is this type. However, Rutgers University developed several all male variety which produce on average a higher number of spears than others. These varieties all bear the name "Jersey" and include: Jersey Knight, Jersey Supreme, and Jersey Giant. An additional advantage of using the male varieties is preventing volunteer asparagus from growing in the plot.2

The differentiation between the Jersey varieties is the diameter of the stalks. The knights are relatively thin and will grow in alkaline soil. The supreme is thicker, and the Giant is rather large and is resistant to fusarium wilt, crown rot, and rust.3

Another variety is the Conover's Colossal which is a popular variety for both garden and field. It is thought to be very reliable and can handle a many climactic conditions.

Palmetto is a leading variety that has been around for a long time. It also used extensively both at home and on the farm. It produces early and long.

Giant Argenteuil is a French variety. It is taken from a selection of Dutch Purple. This is a late variety which is harvested later and longer than most.4

Purple Passion is somewhere between a supreme size and a giant. Naturally it has a purple tinge at the ends of the spears. These are more tender and sweeter than most green varieties. It is said to have a mild flavor, nutty. This is a variety developed in California.5

Other California varieties include Atlas, Apollo, and Grande. They were developed for warm and arid climates. A longer spear is possible without the plant ferning out.

Mary Washington is the most well-known variety and has been around for a long time. The tips can have a purple tinge. These plants are rust resistant, but not as adaptable to different climates as the Jerseys. Martha Washington suffers from long, hot summers coupled with mild winters. It is seldom cultivated commercially.

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  1. Ref to: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/2007-02-01/Asparagus.aspx - Mother Earth News
  2. Oregon State: Asparagus Variety Performance
  3. Asparagus Growing Net on Varieties
  4. The vegetable garden: Illustrations, descriptions, and culture of the garden ... By Vilmorin-Andrieux (p. 15)
  5. Asparagus Production Management and Marketing: Ohio State University

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