Asparagus Harvest Comes Early in Delaware


        Asparagus has come early in the Cape Region. Harvested three weeks ahead of schedule asparagus is hitting the shelves thanks to a warm spring.

        Mike Fennemore of Fifer's Orchards said weather since fall has been more akin to North Carolina conditions.

        "We harvested asparagus March 23, which is a record early harvest. Normally we expect asparagus to begin around April 15," Fennemore said. "Because of this, we anticipate beginning our strawberry harvest in about 10 days. This is three weeks ahead of normal."

        Fennemore said Fifer's workers have been able to accomplish a lot more than usual because of the early spring weather. They have gotten ahead on peach and apple tree pruning, as well as outdoor construction projects, painting, irrigation installations, fieldwork and maintenance.

        But it's not all good news.

        "It is a bit concerning to have peach, plum and apple blossoms so early, as they are susceptible to a frost or freeze until mid-April," Fennemore said. "So far we have been fortunate and are counting our blessings."

        Hattie Allen of Hattie's Garden, a Lewes organic farm, said the early warm temperatures have allowed lettuce plants to survive from last fall. She harvested a final batch of kale, which survived the winter.

        She and Deny Howeth have been preparing garden beds for leeks and onions, but she said carrots, spinach and arugula are all growing.

        "The first bed of arugula is ready to cut and was planted more than a month ago - the same time last year the ground was still covered with snow," Allen said. "Everything is way ahead of schedule."

        Like Fennemore, she said early harvests and planting causes her to worry.

        "On the down side, aphids have been particularly bad across much of the country," said Allen, who follows farming news across the nation. "Much of Delmarva is also running a deficit on rainfall for 2012."

        While Allen is starting to water garden beds, she said most years the ground would either still be snow-covered or it would be too wet to even consider planting.

        "I fear the bug population may explode, so I monitor the garden daily for signs of destructive pests," she said.

        Fennemore said he expects a great spring harvest, and thanks to warm weather, Fifer's has opened its Farm and Country Store in Camden-Wyoming. They plan to open the Dewey Beach Market April 5.

        "It is important for everyone to realize that most crops will be three weeks ahead of normal," Fennemore said. "If they wait too long, they could miss out."

        For more information on Fifer's, go to or visit them on Facebook.