Farmers warn asparagus will be expensive this year as harvest starts late in Germany
After a late harvest and increased prices for agricultural products caused by the outbreak of war in Ukraine, farmers in Germany are warning that the price of asparagus will rise over the next year.
Frost in the past weeks has delayed harvest
After a delay in harvesting caused by bad weather, growers in Germany are finally opening their stalls for this year’s asparagus season. Unfortunately though, the start of the season has been a more muted affair this year, after farmers warned of probable increases in the price of asparagus, caused in large part by the conflict in Eastern Europe.
Both Russia and Ukraine are key producers of agricultural products such as fertilisers and the war between the two has caused supply shortages, pushing the price up. In turn, farmers across every federal state have been affected by rising costs and have had to increase the price of their products to cover their losses.
In the past two years, the COVID-19 epidemic in Germany made it difficult for farmers to get workers from abroad to pick vegetables, due to 3G rules, travel restrictions and vaccine requirements. While this is less problematic in 2022’s harvest season, there are a number of other logistical difficulties for foreign farm workers.
War has also caused labour shortages for German asparagus growers
It’s not just a shortage of fertiliser that has cost asparagus growers in Germany precious time and money in the past season - there is also a shortage of workers. Previously, the country has relied upon foreign workers from Eastern European nations such as Romania to harvest asparagus.
This year, many of these potential farm workers were drafted to help countries such as Poland and Romania secure their borders amidst the conflict in neighbouring Ukraine. The chairperson of the working group for asparagus in southern Hesse, Rolf Meinhardt, said that the price for these workers to take the bus to Germany has also increased from 200 to 250 euros. "Our philosophy is that the consumer pays half and the farmers pay half…[but] I would be surprised if we didn't raise prices,” Meinhardt added.
The asparagus harvest in Germany usually begins during early April as the warmer weather rolls in. The season ends in late June, marked by St John’s Day in Germany.
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