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Asparagus season comes to fruitful end

It's been a good season for local asparagus growers and processors.

That's according to Gary Johnson of Johnson Foods in Sunnyside.

He said this year's crops were high quality, although the yield was about average.

"There was a high demand market," said Johnson, stating with demand up the growers were paid well. He said some growers made more than $1 per pound during the 2012 harvest, although reports from several other farmers said typically the prices offered ranged between 85 and 98 cents per pound.

"We try to do as much as we can for the growers so that we can fulfill orders," said Johnson, whose company processes pickled asparagus for Costco, frozen asparagus for Schwann's and ships fresh market products to Portland, California, New York and Seattle.

Johnson said many of the asparagus growers in the state have ended their season, but growers in the Yakima Valley and Columbia Basin that are contracted with Johnson's company will cut asparagus through this coming Saturday.

"We're one of the last ones," Johnson said, stating his company is trying to fulfill orders for processed asparagus products.

He said there has also been a decrease in the number of cutters as the cherry harvest has commenced.

Overall, the labor shortage has only been recent. Johnson said a shortage of workers was felt in other regions, but not in the Yakima Valley.

"It was a good year, a good crop," said Johnson.

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