The Effect of Soil Moisture on the Motherstalk Method of Asparagus Production

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  • 1 Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Currently, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Horticultural Sciences, NYSAES, Cornell University, Geneva, NY 14456.
  • | 2 Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Rutgers Research and Development Center, R.D. 5, Box 232, Bridgeton, NJ 08302.

The effect of soil moisture levels on the yield and dry matter accumulation of asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L) using the motherstalk method was examined in a greenhouse study. This technique allows for a spear to develop a mature fern while permitting harvest of later-developing spears. The motherstalk treatment resulted in significantly heavier spears as compared to the conventional practice without a motherstalk and harvesting all spears. In addition, crown weights between the motherstalk and the nonharvested treatment were similar at the end of the 12-week harvest period, but significantly lower when spears were harvested without the benefit of a motherstalk. Optimizing soil moisture significantly increased yield in the motherstalk treatment and increased the fern dry weight but had no effect on crown dry weight. Our results indicate that the motherstalk system may allow for extended asparagus harvest in temperate areas but soil moisture may need to be carefully monitored to use this technique.

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