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‘Millennium’ has emerged as the top choice of asparagus varieties in the Midwest.

Asparagus spear emerging from soil in spring
Asparagus spears are a delight to harvest in spring.

Millennium’ looks outstanding. It’s high yielding, long lived, cold hardy, and adaptable to a wide range of soils. Bred in Ontario, ‘Millennium’ has been grown successfully in Minnesota for several years. Trials conducted in 2013 in northern Minnesota showed it produced 2,094 pounds per acre compared to 1,287 pounds for ‘Jersey Giant’ and 1,233 for ‘Jersey Knight’. Research in Michigan found plantings of ‘Millennium’ were slower to attain high yields compared to ‘Jersey’ varieties, but they later showed superior and heavy yields over a 15-year lifespan. Plantings show greater vigor and survival.

The yield advantage of ‘Millennium’ may be in part because it has a higher proportion of male plants compared to the ‘Jersey’ varieties. Male plants are desired because their energies are more focused on producing spears. Female plants spend part of their energy forming seeds. These seeds later drop, causing the bed of asparagus to get overcrowded and the spears to get smaller.

Large scale plantings in Michigan indicates ‘Millennium’ is better adapted to cold climates compared to ‘Jersey Giant’ or ‘Jersey Supreme’. It goes dormant earlier in the fall and emerges later in spring, reducing the risk of frost damage. ‘Millennium’ is hardy throughout most of the Northern United States. zones 3-8

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