The project is seeking to understand and control the factors which compromise the quality and acceptability of English-grown asparagus.

At a glance

Currently, UK asparagus growers are unable to provide year round supply, necessitating the import of large quantities from overseas by air freight. The environmental impact of this practice is significant, as 1 kg of asparagus imported from Peru generates 11.0 kg of CO2 compared to 2.1 kg CO2 per kg for UK grown asparagus.

A new opportunity exists whereby the seasonality/availability of UK asparagus could potentially be extended by implementing the use of UK-designed dynamically controlled atmosphere technology (DCA).

Increasing the availability of UK asparagus will reduce dependence on imported asparagus, reduce waste and help towards greater self-sufficiency.

Asparagus pods
Asparagus pods

Progress update

To date, a number of experiments have been conducted on British and imported asparagus, mainly from Peru and Mexico, in an attempt to understand how different controlled atmosphere regimes affect the physiological, textural and biochemical quality parameters of asparagus spears. Furthermore, shelf life and cooking quality has been assessed. Based on the results, certain gas mixtures have been identified as more beneficial for prolonged storage and consumer acceptance.

Further experiments will be conducted throughout the UK harvest season with the aim to create a new dynamic physiological model to capture the variable factors which influence senescent processes in asparagus spears.