How Often Long Can You Harvest Asparagus?
From the third growing season, you can pick asparagus for decades as long as the produce is thick enough and healthy.
Asparagus can grow best in temperate regions. However, it grows better in cooler areas that receive long winters. The shoots in the Asparagus are the edible part, and they show when the soil temperature goes over 10 degree Celsius in spring.
How long can you harvest Asparagus is one of the prominent questions that comes to mind. Well, Asparagus is one of the first spring vegetables that shows in the springtime. It is perennial, implying once it establishes, you can harvest it year after year for 15, 20, and sometimes even 30 years.
But, the thing with Asparagus is they demand patience. So, give them time to establish before harvesting the spears. Never harvest any spears during the growing season.
Since they will remain productive for a long time, you must pick the best tasting Asparagus types suited to your geography. If you are a first-time Asparagus producer, you must curtail yourself to planting five to 10 Asparagus plants per person.
Coming back to the question, how often can you harvest Asparagus? Continue reading as we unveil.
When Can You Harvest Asparagus After Planting? (The First Harvest)
As stated, planting Asparagus is a test of your patience. Hence, unlike the other vegetables, Asparagus will demand considerable patience as this exotic vegetable takes at least three years before you can harvest the spears.
For the first time, you can only pick the Asparagus over the three to four-week period in its 2nd growing season. It implies that it takes the Asparagus three years before the spears are ready for harvest. Then, after the subsequent year, you can harvest it until early to mid-June.
Ensure that you harvest the plant by snapping or cutting the spears only after they are approximately six inches. Please remember that spears will show in the first and the second year, but if you harvest them during this period, you will kill your plants or stunt their future yield.
On the contrary, if you take the proper steps towards planting the crown correctly, fertilizing the plant well, and caring for it for the first two years, you will enjoy a lavish exotic crop in the spring of the third year.
Hence, you will enjoy new growth annually from early spring until July for the plant’s life. What is this productive life? Lets find out.
How Long Can You Pick Asparagus?
If you start with seed planting, you will obviously not reap any Asparagus in that year. So, by planting seeds, you will have to wait an additional year for the crowns to show, implying an extra year of wait for the production.
But, if you plant or transplant the crowns directly, you will let the plant sit sans any cutting or eating during that year.
For the next year, the opinions on harvesting are divided. While some people suggest that you should avoid cutting completely, others recommend that chopping a single stem to cut for two weeks does no damage.
But, in our view, it is best to let the plant grow. In the third year, it is time for the harvest. While some say you can cut for a complete season, others cap it to only three to five weeks. Ideally, you must not harvest for over eight weeks from the first cutting, or you will weaken the crop in the subsequent years.
From the 4th year onwards, how long can you cut Asparagus? While it may vary for the different Asparagus types, you can typically cut most varieties for the next two to three decades and enjoy a hearty production. Please remember, whichever year you harvest, cut the Asparagus only once it reaches around four to six inches.
Signs To Stop Harvesting Asparagus
Once you harvest the patch for six to eight weeks in summer, leave a minimum of two spears per Asparagus plant to ensure they grow to their full size. These full-sized crowns help feed the plant across the summer and keep your bed alive.
There may be instances when your Asparagus plant shows signs of over-harvesting. It is quintessential to know these signs to ensure your plant stays productive and fertile. What are they? Keep reading below:
A. Small-sized spears
How long can you harvest Asparagus if it has small-sized spears? None! Do not pick Asparagus if the spears are smaller than a pencil’s diameter. In addition, you must never harvest spears that are not over 3/8 of an inch.
However, please remember that if you have planted giant cultivators, their spears might not be as tiny as 3/8 of an inch. So, watch out for the other signs.
B. When the plant’s production diminishes
How many times can you harvest Asparagus if you get lesser and lesser new spears? You must immediately pause or stop the harvest if this is the situation.
However, please remember that Asparagus quickly responds to climatic changes. Hence, a week of cold temperatures might cause reduced production even early in the season. But, it is not a sign to worry because the yield will pick up when the weather is favorable again.
Thus, you must closely observe your patch and employ your judgment to decide if it is early in the season.
C. Do not pick from the Asparagus that does not have at least two buds emerging
It is necessary to have substantial spears remaining for growing a full-sized plant and ensure food and photosynthesis for the plant for the remaining season.
D. Do not harvest when the head pop open before the spears reach their harvestable length
It is an outcome of reduced production. Hence, spare your spears to grow into ferns and feed the crown for the remainder season.
Any doubts about how long can you harvest Asparagus? We hope not, but remember, you can achieve that duration only if you closely monitor these signs and ensure your plant stays healthy.
How Do You Harvest Asparagus For It To Keep Growing?
Before harvesting the Asparagus, you need to take care of asparagus and prepare the plant for it. So, let us discuss the preparation and the harvesting method in detail below.
A. Prepping for the harvest
Chop the spears before the ends start opening up to develop Asparagus ferns. A Lignin substance is produced when the tips open, making the stalk’s bottom end tougher. It is the plants’ way of prepping the stalks to handle the ferns’ weight.
Chop the ferns before they get to this stage. With time, you will know how tall the Asparagus get before they open up. However, if the weather is warm, you must examine and chop the Asparagus daily. Follow the same process every year.
B. Harvesting the spears
You know how long can you pick Asparagus, but how is it done. Generally, the spears should be six to nine inches before you cut them. You can harvest them by breaking the spears off or with a knife.
- If you are not using a tool, break the spears off with your hand near the soil level.
- If you are employing a knife:
- Be cautious while cutting to ensure you do not damage the neighboring developing crown and the spears.
- Keep the knife near the spear, tilt it to a forty-five-degree angle directed around two inches before the soil to mow the spear.
In all honesty, using the knife adds to the labor costs and time compared to when you snap the spears by hand. Moreover, using a knife lowers the precision and increases the risk of cutting nearby spears that have still not developed wholly. Sadly, any damaged developing spears will not grow as expected and will intervene with their yield.
But there is a flip side. When you use a knife, you can cut the spears below the soil where the base of the spear is woody and white. Since this tissue is less susceptible to water loss, the harvested spears will maintain their quality longer.
On the contrary, harvesting by hand, too, has its share of pros and cons. Snapping tends to damage the tender spear above ground. It can lower the plant’s shelf-life. But, of course, hand harvesting is faster, easier, and will not damage the surrounding spears.
From late May to early June, you should harvest every two days. You will see a surge in spear emergence when the temperature is warm, but it will slow down in colder temperatures.
Related: Asparagus Lifespan | Best Fertilizer for Asparagus
What Month Do You Harvest Asparagus?
Asparagus are perennial and return year after year to a productive life. The crowns are available only once a year in early spring. So, you can start your harvest but cease it in late June or early July or when the growth slows down significantly.
What Happens If You Do Not Harvest Asparagus?
If you do not harvest the Asparagus in the harvest season, the Asparagus beetles will lay eggs in the ferns. This will damage your produce.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ques 1. Why can’t you eat Asparagus the first year?
Ans. You do not harvest any Asparagus spears in the first two years after you put the plants in their permanent bed. During this time, they concentrate all their energy on root development.
So, it is only in the third season that you pick the spears over the four-week window. However, you can extend the harvest period to eight weeks in the fourth year.
Ques 2. When should you not cut Asparagus?
Ans. Do not cut Asparagus in late summer, fall, and winter.
Ques 3. Can you pick Asparagus all summer?
Ans. Asparagus spears are one of the earliest spring vegetables, but you can harvest them in August too. You can continue picking them in September and October if you reside in a mid-warm climate. However, accordingly, switch your pruning season.
Always keep in mind how often can you harvest Asparagus, because over doing it will do more harm than good.