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The Science behind Aspara Pacific

With over 40 years of breeding and asparagus research, Aspara Pacific is a pioneer in this field, producing varieties which are virus free and Phytophthora tolerant


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Virus Free Asparagus

Dr Peter Falloon and his wife Linda have spent 40 years researching and breeding asparagus. Their research showed that Asparagus Virus 2 is the main cause of early decline in yield and spear quality of asparagus fields. The virus can be eliminated using plant tissue culture, which ensures growers maintain higher yields for longer.​

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Dr Peter Falloon discusses Asparagus viruses

Asparagus Virus 2

Asparagus Virus 2, also known as the Asparagus Latent Virus, is the primary cause of Asparagus Decline. It results in low yields and loss of productivity. Asparagus plants free of Asparagus Virus 2 yield 30% more than infected plants. It is transmitted by mechanical means and increases the plant's vulnerability to Fusarium Rot. 

Research at Michigan State University showed that asparagus plants infected with Asparagus Virus 2 were more susceptible to both species of Fusarium that are commonly isolated from asparagus roots and crowns. It had originally been thought that Fusarium was the main cause of asparagus decline but more recent research has shown that virus infection is the primary cause and Fusarium is the secondary. So the key to increasing the productive life of an asparagus field is to only use plants grown from virus free seed.

To ensure the virus free status of our varieties, they are independently tested by AsureQuality, the NZ Seed Certification Authority. 

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Phytophthora rot affects asparagus in Europe, England, North and South America and Australasia. It causes establishment failures, rots spears during wet harvest conditions and can cause post-harvest rot in fresh asparagus spears.


During the harvest season most of the rot occurs below the soil surface. The rotten spears that appear above the ground represent only a small proportion (approximately 10%) of the damage caused by this fungus.  As a result, growers often underestimate the effect of this disease on their yields.

Pacific Challenger F1 is tolerant of Phytophthora rot as well as being virus free. Pacific Challenger F1 is the product of over 30 years of research and breeding for tolerance to this important disease. Pacific Challenger F1 represents an important breakthrough in limiting the effect of Phytophthora rot on asparagus production.


Phytophthora affected spears which usually bend just above the soil surface. On the inside of the bend, a slimy rot occurs.

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