Another well-known California asparagus grower is taking out production. Acres of California land pushing out asparagus has continued to dwindle for the last several decades. AgNet West talked to Klein Family Farms President Jeff Klein last year when well-known asparagus packer Kings Crown out of Tracy shut its doors. “10, possibly 15 years ago there was at least 35,000, and I want to say closer to 40,000 acres of (California) asparagus,” Klein said. “Now you’re looking at about 2,000 acres. People are just getting out for less labor-intensive crops.”
This year, Klein himself is being forced to give up on almost half of his asparagus operation. Production costs continue to rise in California and Klein said last year that major retailers are not supporting the price that the state’s asparagus producers need to survive. “(Mexico’s) cost of production is around $30 a box, and ours is around $55. The retailers do not want to support us, and I believe that it’s for financial reasons, which I understand because it’s they are in it to make money,” he said. “But they could put California asparagus in the store and give the consumer the option to buy it still at the same margins that they make on Mexican asparagus.”
Klein told us last year that California producers can’t compete with Mexico’s prices and multiple reports say that’s why he is discing under 200 acres this year.
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