Thin Asparagus Falling Over - Knowledgebase Question

E Brunswick, NJ
Question by DWB00001
May 19, 2000
Last year I planted asparagus roots for the first time. Even though we had a severe drought, I kept them watered once a week and they appeared to do fine. This year they all came up and grew to about 2-4 feet tall and then fell over. I staked them all but am worried about next year. Any ideas as to why they will not stand up? They were planted and fertilized according to the instructions from Burpee. Is this a result of the drought or did I just not plant them deep enough? Will mounding soil in the bed help?


A comment from BryanMcLeod
September 26, 2017
Hi as a soil and plant consultant in NZ and Australia I have also been very involved with asparagus problems In Japan. You mention your asparagus falling over, this is can be a result of excess soil potassium suppressing plant manganese and magnesium resulting in weak stalks. Compost and many organic materials contain high levels of potassium which is very available - soil calcium is often very low as most look at pH to determine whether lime is required but as potassium in excess will also influence the pH indicating that lime may not be required. As asparagus is a long term crop the biggest problem I find is the over supply of composts or animal manures, apart from creating weak stalks but also resulting in poor quality and flavour. B McLeod


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Answer from NGA
May 19, 2000

0

It is often necessary to prop up asparagus once the tops have filled out, so it is not necessarily a problem. An easy way to do this is to put a stake at each end of the row and run string from end to end, rather than staking individual plants. Asparagus should come back stronger each year for the first few years. Each fall, after cleaning away the old stems, topdress with a heavy layer of well rotted manure and/or compost and an organic mulch. This will help to feed the soil and keep the crowns well covered as well as insulate them and keep down weeds. It should not be nessary and would be rather problematic to add more soil. If you did not plant the crowns very deep originally, you might try using a particularly generous layer of compost and mulch every fall. This would gradually increase the amount of soil over the roots.

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