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How do you harvest asparagus?

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Quick Answer

Harvest asparagus in the second or third growth year when the spears are 7 to 9 inches tall, explains Ohio State University Extension. Asparagus plants that reach this height must be harvested every two to four days over a three- to six-week period.

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Full Answer

Asparagus can be harvested several times over a three-week period depending on soil and air temperatures during the first year after planting. When air temperatures increase, asparagus may be harvested once or twice per day. Stop the harvest when spears are less than three-eighths of an inch in diameter, notes Ohio State University Extension. When the harvest is complete, snap the spears off at ground level and apply fertilizer and herbicides.

Pick asparagus stems before the tips fern out because this is when the plants get tough. Harvest asparagus in the morning, before temperatures rise in the afternoon, because the stems are perishable. Immerse the picked spears immediately in ice-cold water to remove any heat, drain the water and then store the spears in sealed plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, according to Ohio State University Extension. Beetles lay eggs in the ferns, reducing the quality of asparagus. Apply an insecticide at the first sign of beetles because the insects eat the ferns, turn the plants brown and reduce the harvest. Spray fungicides when ferns reach 3 to 4 feet in height.

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