The ‘NJ1113’ variety was developed through the Rutgers asparagus breeding program to improve quality for consumers and increase yields for commercial growers. ‘NJ1113’ produces yields up to 30% greater than previous varieties! It also has the added benefit of being highly disease resistant and rust resistant, which reduces the need for fungicides, thus lowering the cost of production and improving public health. Nutritional benefits of asparagus include antioxidants, which prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. ‘NJ1113’ is a green, elite all-male hybrid with consistently high yields and good spear quality.
In addition to green asparagus, Rutgers has also released purple asparagus. Purple asparagus originated from a region around Albenga, Italy, which lends to its name, Violetto d’Albenga. Currently, there are a couple of purple asparagus hybrids on the market. These hybrids are actually polyclonal crosses with multiple female and male parents, thus making them highly variable. They are also quite sensitive to Fusarium disease and cold winter temperature. Violetto d’Albenga is tetraploid that has difficulty in crossing with normal green asparagus, which is diploid.
To solve this problem, Rutgers breeders have generated a number of tetraploid lines from their best homozygous male lines. A number of hybrids of Violetto d’Albenga elite lines with the tetraploid homozygous green asparagus lines have been generated. These hybrids have enhanced yields, disease resistance, and cold tolerance. However, at warmer harvesting temperatures their spears have some green tint that is not desirable.
New asparagus varieties are developed through the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and the Department of Plant Biology & Pathology at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. These varieties out-yield previous landmark hybrids ‘Jersey Giant,’ ‘Jersey Knight,’ and ‘Jersey Supreme’ by 10-30% in trials at multiple sites around the world. There are very rust resistant and highly tolerant to Fusarium crown and root rot. The asparagus breeding program continues to improve the resistance, yields, and color of hybrids. Currently, available varieties are NJ1021, NJ1025, NJ1113, and NJ1122. Among the 4 hybrids, NJ1113 is the best!