Featured Produce News

U.S. Asparagus Industry at a Glance

April 02, 2015

Asparagus Harvest Techniques, Statistics and Reports  


2014 Crop Year, Asparagus


$ 73.4 million



74.3 million lbs

(33,702 MT)

Domestic Consumption

542.4 million lbs

(246,030 MT)


18.3 million lbs

(8,302 MT)


486.4 million lbs

(220,630 MT)

Bearing Acres



Per Capita Consumption

0.18 lbs/person


Data Source: FAS, USDA; NASS, USDA

About Asparagus

Asparagus is a perennial bulb and stem vegetable that grows from a crown planted about a foot deep in the soil. Asparagus is harvested during the spring and early summer, when spears begin to emerge from the crowns. Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow up to 10” in a 24-hour period. Asparagus is a labor intensive crop, usually harvested by hand. Fifty to seventy percent of all production costs are for labor. Early in the harvest, there may be 4-5 days between pickings. As the temperature increases, however, the field may have to be picked every day. Asparagus shouldn’t be harvested until 3 years after its initial planting in order to allow the crown to develop a strong fibrous root system. If the asparagus planting is well taken care of, it will be able to produce for 15-20 years without being replanted. Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food high in folic acid. It is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. Asparagus has no fat, contains no cholesterol, and is low in sodium.

In the United States

2012/13 Major Players in Apple Market Click on U.S. Production Graph to Enlarge.
Prepared by FPP using data from NASS, USDA.

Asparagus production in the U.S. has been steadily decreasing.  The U.S. asparagus industry produced 231 million pounds in 2004. In 2014, however, total asparagus production was only 74 million pounds.  Total acreage planted has the same trends; going from 66,000 acres in 2004 to 23,800 acres in 2014.  Almost all commercial production occurs in California, Washington, Michigan.  Other states, however, including New Jersey and Oregon, have produced asparagus in the past


2012/13 Major Players in Apple Market Click on U.S. Asparagus Production by State Graph to enlarge.
Prepared by FPP using data from NASS, USDA.

Total U.S. asparagus production in 2014 was 74.3 million pounds.  About 75 percent this, or 56.8 million pounds, was for fresh-market uses. The other 25 percent, or about 17.5 million pounds, was used for processing; 4 million pounds were canned and the rest (13.5 million pounds) was frozen.

U.S. Asparagus Trade

2012/13 Major Players in Apple Market Click on U.S. Asparagus Imports and Exports Graph to enlarge.
Prepared by FPP using data from U.S. International Trade Commission.

Each year, total U.S. asparagus exports continue to decline while imports increase rapidly.  In 2014, the U.S. exported only 8,302 MT of asparagus. Total imports that same year reached 234,000 MT.  

Prior to the passage of NAFTA, the U.S. import tariff on fresh asparagus from Mexico was 25 percent ad valorem.  The tariff was phased out over 15 years and is now a zero tariff.

The U.S. imports over 99 percent of its asparagus from Mexico and Peru.  The other one percent comes from Canada, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Morocco, and the Netherlands. The United States doesn’t import asparagus from China, the world’s largest producer.

The U.S. exports to over 20 different countries.  The leading market for U.S. asparagus is Canada. Japan is also an importer and the top U.S. export market for frozen asparagus.  Other buyers include the Netherlands, the U.K., Australia, Switzerland, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Italy.

2012/13 Major Players in Apple MarketClick on U.S. Export Market Graph to enlarge.
Prepared by FPP using data from U.S. International Trade Commission.

World Asparagus Industry

China is the world’s leading producer of asparagus. In 2013, at 15.4 million lbs. (7 million MT), China produced almost 90% of the world’s asparagus.  The next largest producers are Peru, Mexico, Germany (white asparagus), Thailand, and Spain.  The United States is currently the 7th largest producer of asparagus.

2012/13 Major Players in Apple MarketClick on World Production Graph to enlarge.
Prepared by FPP using data from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN.

In the early 1990's, the U.S. sponsored a study to demonstrate Peru could have a year-round asparagus industry.  By incentivizing farmers in Peru to grow food instead of drugs, the U.S. government hoped to reduce the flow of cocaine into the states.  Peru is now the 2nd largest producer of asparagus in the world.  While the emergence of Peru as a year-round global asparagus supplier meant cheaper vegetables for U.S. consumers, it had a considerable negative effect on the U.S. asparagus industry. To read an article on this from the New York Times, click here. To read an ERS study on the impacts Peruvian exports have on Washington, Michigan, and California asparagus markets, click here and go to page 10.


More Information on Asparagus

To see the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) commodity highlight on asparagus, click here. For more U.S. Asparagus Statistics from ERS, click here.

For information on the health benefits of asparagus, click here.

For a New York Times article on New Jersey asparagus, click here.

To see a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialty crop profile on asparagus, click here.

To view an asparagus commodity profile made by the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center at Iowa State University, click here.

To view the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board website, click here.

To view the Washington Asparagus Commission website, click here.

To view the California Asparagus Commission website, click here.



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