Answer: What you describe fits the description of fusarium crown rot, but to be absolutely sure, you should have the problem diagnosed by your extension office (ph# 517/539-7805). Fusarium crown rot is a soil-borne fungal disease that can quickly kill new plantings, and unfortunately, there's no "cure". It makes me wonder if the disease was imported with the new plants, since your old stand appears unaffected. The problem can spread to your established asparagus, so be on the watch. The older plants may be a variety that is resistant to the disease. It wouldn't hurt to start a new bed with a variety known to show resistance to the disease, such as 'Jersey Giant' (available from Burpee).
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