(April 10, 12:45 p.m.) Mother’s Day favorites asparagus and strawberries should be available in promotable supplies, with strong demand and movement expected, grower-shippers and industry officials said.

Washington asparagus shippers expect to kick off their deals a little later than expected this season, said Alan Schreiber, administrator of the Washington Asparagus Commission, Eltopia.

But it shouldn’t be late enough to prevent retailers from selling high-quality Empire State asparagus on ad for Mother’s Day, which falls on May 10, Schreiber said.

“Normally we expect some harvest to start by the end of this week,” Schreiber said April 7. “But by May we should be right in the peak of the season. There should be plenty of asparagus for Mother’s Day. I’m sure there will be some promotions going on.”

Growers who market their asparagus through Yakima, Wash.-based Rasmussen Marketing Inc. will likely begin shipping about April 15, said Kim Nordberg, saleswoman.

“The quality’s fabulous, and there should be good supplies, assuming it doesn’t freeze,” Nordberg said.

Some asparagus will still be shipping from California in early May, but for the most part Washington should have the domestic deal to itself, Schreiber said.

Schreiber was optimistic that current market conditions — strong but not too strong — would prevail through Mother’s Day.

“Volumes out of California are down, so supply is in line with demand,” he said. “The price is pretty good, but it’s not too high. It’s counterproductive to see $50 asparagus. That invites the Peruvians and Mexicans in.”

On April 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $38.75-40.75 for 28-pound pyramid cartons and crates of asparagus from California, up from $30.50-32.50 last year at the same time.

Washington acreage is down slightly this year, but, barring any unforeseen weather events, production could be similar to last year, when poor weather reduced some yields, Schreiber said.


Holiday strawberry movement is expected to be brisk for Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, Calif., with plenty of promotable supplies expected, said Gloria Chillon, marketing director.

“We will have very good supplies coming from Southern California, Santa Maria and Watsonville,” she said. “Everyone loves Mother’s Day celebrations, and we’re anticipating strong demand this year.”

Driscoll’s is pushing its retailers to promote larger packages — including 2- and 4-pounders — as well as the company’s long-stem strawberries, Chillon said.

Watsonville-based California Giant Inc. also expected brisk movement of ample volumes of high-quality strawberries from all three California growing regions, said Cindy Jewell, the company’s marketing director.

“It’s definitely peak season,” Jewell said. “The biggest challenge is getting retailers to promote in between Easter and Mother’s Day.”

Jewell was optimistic retailers would do just that, carrying the momentum built up for Easter into Mother’s Day.

On April 7, the USDA reported prices of $11.90-12.90 for flats of 12 1-pint baskets of medium and large California strawberries, up from $7.90-8.90 last year at the same time.

Asparagus, strawberries on track for Mother’s Day
Retailers should be able to sell plenty of Washington asparagus on ad for Mother’s Day, says Alan Schreiber, administrator of the Washington Asparagus Commission, Eltopia. As for strawberries, good supplies are expected from all California growing regions, says Gloria Chillon, marketing director for Watsonville-based Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc.