LAND OF LIQUID: Visit to Asparagus Town, Part 2

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  • May 31, 2017

So to continue our visit to America’s premier asparagus growing town….we are looking at new Retail Partner Todd Greiner’s fertilizer storage just put in this spring.  Here are Katherine, Troy, Greiner Farms salesman Tim and Burt.  Very impressive.  They have several nurse trailers and fill totes to take fertilizer out to growers.

 It’s easy to know what is coming out of the hose.

 Accurate measurement with a Murray meter.

 Now out to a field.  This is our quest….asparagus ready to pick.  Each field is picked multiple times as the stalks grow back quickly.

 Here is a harvest cart.  Actually I don’t know the official term, but harvest cart works.  These are actually built nearby.  But you sit in your seat and pick stalks as they go by.  The guy in the middle steers with his feet.  There is only half a cart crew here.  But we watched them go back and forth.  The crates of picked asparagus are taken to the packing plant and put into a cooler till ready to pack.  So it was really cool when we were there, in the 50’s.  But the previous week it was in the 80’s and they said the asparagus would grow an inch an hour in that heat.  So cool is better.  In fact on those hot days they couldn’t pick it fast enough and had to mow much of it that grew too big.  Then come back and pick the re-growth later like today.  There are fields big and small all over the place.  They like the sandy soil, this being so close to Lake Michigan.

 After ten or more years, it is time to replant the crowns.  Now we have asparagus at the NCRS, but I guess I was absent the day it was planted.  They grow “crowns” in the field from seed.  The crown is a perennial root mass that looks like a wad of spaghetti.  It is harvested and then planted the next year in a new field in a trench.  Before planting, Liquid fertilizer is banded in the bottom of the trench, like 8 to 10 gal of Pro-Germinator.  Then throw in the crowns and fill in the trench.  This field was planted with crowns earlier in the spring and the emerged stalks are now visible.  These won’t be picked this year, but next year they will be.  As far as fertilizer, they will band AgroLiquid Pro-Germinator, Kalibrate and High NRG-N over the row in the spring.  Then after harvest the stalks go to “ferns” and those are sprayed with FertiRain, then they are mowed and can receive another band of fertilizer before fall dormancy.  Todd says he really loves FertiRain and sprays it on all of his crops and his family and workers thinks he would drink it too.  Whatever works!

In this field, there was a harvest cart on the edge, so us rookies got on to try it out.  Unfortunately they took the key.  But we were ready.

Here is a new tart cherry orchard of Todd’s.  He is impressed how fast it has grown since establishment last year.  Bands of AgroLiquid plus foliars of FertiRain and Fase 2 have made it grow much better than other fields without.  Katherine checks it out.  Every tree has a little bag on it? What is that for?  Well it’s deer repellent.  Evidently she’s no deer.  And if you’ve never seen cherry harvest, it is unlike anything else as far as harvesting.  Hopefully I can be around during a harvest to report on it.

 I reported on some freezing weather a few weeks ago.  Well it was really bad over here.  This is a branch of a tart cherry tree. All of the blossoms there frosted and died. There is only one cherry in the whole bunch.  It’s interesting because we talked to another grower there and he says at least that will reduce the unsold cherry stocks left over from last year.  A familiar problem for every crop at times.

 So we were close to Lake Michigan, and went out into the dunes around Silver Lake.  It is a popular place for riding Sand Rails as they are called.  Well I turned my back to take some pictures and got separated. They said they didn’t desert me in the desert.  Hmmm.  Well I will say that it’s rough being abandoned without food or water.  I must have been out there for many minutes.

We were very close to Lake Michigan and it seems that this Ohio girl had never seen this Great Lake.  So we drove over so she could see what it feels like.  Wet was the report.

So that was fun and informative.  Again, get some Michigan asparagus and serve it up three times a day!

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