Frozen temperatures nip some early asparagus

Young asparagus sprouts.(© Can Stock Photo / Smit)

The early bird may get the worm, but the early asparagus sprouts are getting burned.

John Jaques, who owns Sunshine Farms in Thamesville, said the freezing temperatures late Wednesday night destroyed any of the early sprouts that were already above the ground — and even some that were slightly below the surface.

“It’s hard to judge, but I’d say 10-15 per cent of our crop [is lost],” said Jaques.

He said the warmer temperatures in the forecast for the next week should bode well for the local crop, though, adding that he usually targets May 5 for his first asparagus harvest, but he expects they will have some ready a bit before that this spring.

Jaques said in addition to the freezing cold temperatures killing off some of the early crop, COVID-19 restrictions and regulations are proving challenging — and costly — again this year.

He said his farm has two groups of migrant workers isolating right now and is still waiting for more to arrive, but thinks the government regulations that are in place have “gone overboard.”

Jaques said he is sometimes fielding around 10 calls a day from “all different levels of government”, checking in on the health of the migrant workers and making sure they are doing OK. He said he also had to build some new housing to spread the migrant workers out more, adding there is no extra support to recover those costs.

He said all of the migrant workers at his farm were tested for COVID-19 before they left for Canada, then a second time once they arrived in Canada, and they are set to be tested again before they are cleared from their isolation period.

Jaques said all of the migrant workers at his farm have also received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Safe people safe food, we have to have that,” said Jaques. “But some of this has turned into a make work project.”