Hot off the official opening of the UK asparagus season at the weekend, Morrisons is selling a cut-price wonky version of the vegetable after mild spring temperatures led to a crooked crop this season.
This year’s warm early spring has encouraged asparagus shoots to push up prematurely and as the shoots track the sun and early spring sun levels have been low, this has caused some asparagus production to grow slightly askew.
A combination of changeable hot and cold spring temperatures has also resulted in shorter and longer spears.
Now on Morrisons’ shelves for just £1 for 180g, the wonky asparagus is the latest vegetable to be add to the supermarket’s cut-price fresh produce category, with the retailer claiming this is the cheapest asparagus on the market.
Perfectly straight and upright asparagus normally sells in Morrisons for £1.75 for a bundle (250g). Other produce in the Morrisons wonky range include carrots, parsnips, onions and potatoes.
Despite its wonky appearance, the asparagus has tender spears with a sweet and fresh taste, according to James Dale from suppliers Flaming Produce.
“The warm early spring and temperature fluctuations has resulted in 10% to 15% ten of our asparagus crop growing wonky this spring. But it’s only their shape which is different. Growing asparagus takes many years of hard work so we’re grateful that this part of the crop is being sold on to customers and will not be wasted,” he says.
Asparagus is still considered a vegetable delicacy in the UK because of it’s extremely short growing season which usually lasts around eight weeks and leads to a supply running from St George’s Day (April 23) to late June.
Asparagus has very specific climate and soil requirements and will only grow well in sheltered, sunny spots with good quality soil, and needs to be well watered in dry spells. Growers need to wait three years after planting the vegetable before the crop reaches maturity and they can cut their first harvest.
Only one tonne of asparagus will grow per acre of land and the vegetable is harvested by hand using a knife to carefully cut the bottom of each stalk.
“We’ve stepped in to buy the crop as we wanted to help growers and put this normally luxury ingredient into the hands of shoppers for just a pound,” adds Michael Weightman, asparagus buyer at Morrisons.