Invitation to Participate in the 5th International Asparagus Cultivar Trial

Neil Stone
Invitation to Participate in the 5th International Asparagus Cultivar Trial

Members of the ISHS Asparagus Working Group (which is operating under the ISHS Division Vegetables, Roots and Tubers) are invited to participate in a new (5th) International Asparagus Cultivar Trial (5IACT).

Goals of the 5IACT
The generation of multisite results that would aid understanding of the nature of the interaction between genetic and environmental factors influencing productivity and quality in current commercial germplasm. While each group would naturally be free to publish the results from their own experiments, the data would also be shared amongst groups for joint publication based upon the multisite results.
Participating groups can choose (1) to provide cultivars for testing; or (2) to manage a local trial, or both. Trial managers will be encouraged to plant a common set of standard cultivars which vary for cold, Fusarium, Phytophthora, and rust tolerance, earliness, nutrient and antioxidant content, etc., so that it will be easier to compare data for the same cultivar across trial locations.
If you would like to be a 5IACT participant please fill out one or both of the following surveys (attached) and send them by the 25th of June to Neil Stone (, Ana Castagnino ( or W. John Rogers (
1. Cultivar Submission Survey
2. Trial Manager Survey
Cultivar Submission Guidelines
The aim is to invite groups to submit possible cultivars for their inclusion in the multisite trials and then, once the submissions have been received, to reach consensus about which of those will form the common set of standard cultivars to be grown at all sites, based upon the characteristics they possess and which cultivars would potentially provide the most useful information about genetic-environmental interaction. In order for the results of the 5IACT to be actionable for the Asparagus Working Group, cultivar submissions will be limited to released, publicly available cultivars. Of course, trial managers will have the ability to test unreleased varieties in the same trial as the 5IACT in their own location according to their own interests and requirements.
Trial Management Guidelines
In addition to 2-3 of the suggested standard cultivars per group, trial size will be limited to a maximum of 20 test cultivars. A list of suggested standard cultivars will be distributed after we have received the cultivar submission surveys, in order to reach the aforementioned consensus on which cultivars to include as the common set. It is important for trial managers to include several standard cultivars in their trial, taking care to choose a range of standard cultivars that are appropriate for your particular growing conditions. The use of a range of standard cultivars in each trial will greatly enhance the interpretation of data across trial locations. The trial manager survey is quite lengthy. Please try to provide as much information as possible on this form, since this will help others to make better comparisons among trials. While taking into account local conditions and practices, the aim of this new trial is as far as possible to standardize trial management across locations, to enable the results to be more readily compared; for this purpose, a reference protocol based upon the information provided in the trial manager surveys will be elaborated, as well as a consensus form for recording the data, in order to assist participating groups to score the same traits under the same criteria.
Further considerations
We are currently at the stage of conforming an Organizing Team that will be tasked to oversee all aspects of the 5IACT, for which we request that those interested in taking part contact us at the e-mail addresses given below. The aim is that all production areas of the crop be represented in this Team; to date, the USA and Argentina are thus represented.
While initially each group would be responsible for financing their own experiments, funding possibilities over the longer term will be explored and members' ideas for possible sources of support would be most welcome.
As well as the specific goals included in the 5IACT, hopefully the activities and cooperation inherent in its execution will help us all become better growers and researchers in the future.
Please send any suggestions, on these or any other issues, to Neil Stone (, Ana Castagnino ( or W. John Rogers (

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