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Productivity responses of asparagus to droughting in a tropical environment

Bright, J. Mr; Ph. (08) 8973 9768; Fax (08) 8973 9777;

Research organisation: Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Katherine Research Station, PO Box 1346, Katherine NT 0851

Sponsors: RIRDC: Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation


The objectives of the project were to determine the effects of droughting (intensity and duration) on:

1. The total yield and quality of spears;

2. The levels of carbohydrates in the plant and how this affects objective 1;

3. Root system development (length and distribution); and

4. Crown health and longevity.

From this, the application of droughting as a management tool for tropical asparagus production can be assessed, and guidelines for use by commercial growers developed.


1. Study the effect of moisture stress at four soil matric potentials over five different durations prior to harvest on spear production and quality.

2. Conduct field trials on a property of four different moisture stress durations prior to harvest with particular reference to harvest efficiency and commercial considerations.

3. Examine root distribution and depth within a commercial planting in order to refine irrigation management.

Progress: Outcomes of the trial show the duration of drought dormancy of asparagus in a tropical environment to be significantly less than previously thought. The dry season (March-November) in this region gives growers total control of water regimes. It is a time when no rainfall, dry warm days and low humidity are the norm. Growers in North Australia are able to impose a 10-20 day dormancy and harvest during the southern State dormancy period. This enhanced knowledge of asparagus response to droughting has provided a new and powerful management technique to manipulate crop phenology and physiology to maximise returns during periods of low supply and high prices.

Period: starting date 1994-06; completion date 1997-12

Status: completed

Keywords: asparagus, droughting

Publications: RIRDC report in preparation; due to be completed early 1999. Report gives details of benefits of drought management as a tool for tropical asparagus.


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