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STOCKTON, CA -- Despite unseasonably wet and cool weather, California asparagus growers are gearing up for on-time production, which will begin in earnest in March.

All asparagus growing regions in California are seeing normal harvest timing and volume prospects, with industry experts saying that the rain simply made up for exceptionally dry weather in November and December. Growers expect steady demand for the crop, which is expected to be slightly over 40 million pounds -- similar to the 2010 harvest.

"There was some initial concern about the substantial rainfall, but the beds are in great shape with the first asparagus just now seeing the light of day," Ed Zuckerman of Zuckerman Heritage Farms, here, said in a Jan. 25 press release. He anticipates modest volume from his area through the end of February, with full production early in March.

The Salinas area has also benefited from the recent rain. Wayne Gularte at Rincon Farms in Gonzales, CA, said in the release that everything he is seeing points to normal harvest timing and volume, with early production showing outstanding quality.

Growers in the California Delta area near Stockton are also cautiously optimistic that the start date and volume will be normal. "The rain has come at a good time for our asparagus," Marc Marchini of A M Farms in Stockton said in the release. "Because of the accompanying cool weather, we are running a few days behind normal, but a warm spell could move us right back to our normal harvest timing. We'll be in full production early in March."

Cherie Watte, executive director of the California Asparagus Commission, reminds retailers that a limited quantity of market-proven sales aids are again being made available to help promote the tender spring vegetable. Displaying point-of-sale materials in-store can help retailers take full advantage of the exceptional profit opportunity offered by California asparagus. For full details, visit the calasparagus.com web site.