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Local farmers focus on picking the perfect asparagus

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The arrival of spring means asparagus season, with local farmers gearing up to harvest and sell the season's first crop.

The combination of rain, temperatures and ideal soil is the perfect recipe for a timely harvest.

At Valley Farm Market in Elmvale, owner Henry Linde says they usually start picking during the first week of May.

"And I have not really seen any changes of years that we could actually start a lot earlier -or a lot later. It's always asparagus. It's pretty consistent that way," he explained.

Like Valley Farm Market, Barrie Hill Farms is entering asparagus season.

Owner Morris Gervais anticipates selling more than 100,000 pounds of asparagus this year.

"It's very, very, labour intensive to harvest the crop once it starts to grow, because once the warm weather comes, it's completely driven by temperature," Gervais said. "If it gets to be 10, 11, 12C, the asparagus slows down and stops growing. But as soon as it turns 19 or 20 degrees, it grows really, really quickly."

In addition to preparing for the harvest, Gervais' farm offers a pick-your-own produce experience, inviting visitors to join in the agricultural activity.

The experts say to look for asparagus that is eight to ten inches in size when purchasing it from the farm or in-store.

Local farmers anticipate that the asparagus season will wrap up by the end of June, when they will start to turn their attention to strawberry season.

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