Cold Spell ‘Put Brakes’ on Hadley Asparagus; Warmth Expected to Produce Bounty

MassLive, May 16, 2017, by Diane Lederman

The asparagus season “started off with a bang,” said farmer Tom Waskiewicz, who sells the crop from his Middle Street stand.

There was “early, heavy production and excellent quality,” he said in an email. “But the recent cold spell put the brakes on the yield, but the quality remains and the demand is through the roof.”

An early warm spell greeted the season, but then temperatures fell 10 to 15 degrees below normal with less sun. Asparagus loves both warmth and sun.

Wally Czajkowski of Plainville Farm, the largest grower in the area, said “the cold has slowed it down a lot.”

But he said with the promise of warm weather in the days ahead — temperatures are expected to top 90 degrees Thursday — “we’re hoping for full production,” he said. “We’re looking at beautiful soil moisture.” Well irrigated soil is also vital.

Vanna Kong, who was clipping and cleaning asparagus at Alligator Farm or Route 47, said, “Last year no water, this year no sun.” Alligator Farm had to close its stand four to five days this year because the cold cut production.

Hadley is known for is asparagus, often called “Hadley Grass.”

“People have been chomping at the bit,” said Sandy Pipczynski, who along with her husband owns Pipczynski Farm on East Street.

With warm temperatures, asparagus can grow 2 to 3 inches in a day. If it gets really warm, farm workers have to harvest twice a day, she said.

The early cold snap has its upside, Pipczynski said. “The cold makes it nice and sweet,” she said.

People can buy the crop at farm stands all over town, including one at the corner of East Street and Route 9.

The stand sells asparagus from four growers including Plainville Farm, said Janet Wanczyk, who runs the stand for her husband, Walter. They sell all kinds of Hadley produce and were expecting to sell spinach later in the day.

They augment the Hadley produce with other things people want, like strawberries, but their goal is to serve the Hadley farmers and offer what they grow, she said.

“The warm-up, starting today, combined with the recent rain will result in peak harvests for the next few days,” Waskiewicz said. He and others expect the season will last at least until the third week in June.