The French white asparagus season has been hampered by frequent rain and low temperatures in parts of the country this year, delaying the harvest and affecting quality, according to France Info.
“Since 10 December, we have had no more than seven consecutive days of sun,” said David Ducourneau, president of the union of asparagus producers of Les Landes.
According to Ducourneau, the rain and cold have combined to reduce production volumes by around a half.
Christelle Castagnède, an organic producer based in Arengosse, said that she had barely harvested 1.5 tonnes, whereas usually she would have around 3-4 tonnes a day. “We should be in the period when we beat the harvesting records,” she said.
The main effect of such climatic issues is on prices. Although prices in Les Landes remain reasonable at around €4.50 per kilo, some cities have seen prices hit €12, €15 or even €20 per kilo.
Asparagus from Camargue, a region located south of Arles, has arrived on the market around a fortnight late due to the weather conditions, reports France Info.
"You need it to reach a temperature of around 12oC in the mound of soil for asparagus to grow,” said Serge Amouroux, an asparagus producer in Aigues-Mortes. “It snowed a lot not so long ago, and since then it has been very cold. The asparagus has been slow to grow, and this year, it has arrived late."
In Alsace, home to 225 asparagus producers, newly planted spears appear to be larger this season, producer Emmanuel Dollinger told France Bleu.
“The bigger the asparagus, the better it is,” he said. “There is more flesh and there is more to eat. This winter, we had two to three weeks of very low temperatures,” he said. “This allowed the asparagus to go into dormancy, which may be an explanation for the large sizes. Compared with last year, each asparagus is around 5-10g heavier.”