Posted by: McCarty Hatfield on Dec 2, 2013
PSC Professor Leads Research on 'Fascinating' Plant
The asparagus plant is just one of many vegetables, but there is one CAAS professor, Daniel Drost, who has built much of his research around this one plant. He’s not the only one either. Other researchers from around the globe specialize in asparagus and gathered recently for the 13th International Asparagus Symposium.
“My wife says that you can only look at asparagus so much before it kind of bores you,” Drost said. “[I say], ‘well no I don’t think so.’ We [researchers] get together and that’s what we do. We start talking about asparagus at breakfast, and when we go to bed at night, we’re still talking about asparagus.”
The symposium held every four years, each time in a different country, was hosted in Nanchang, China, of the Jiangxi Province, a sister state to Utah. Delegates from 18 different countries gathered to discuss research and outreach strategies for the asparagus plant.
In 2009 at the last symposium, Drost was elected as president of the Asparagus Working Group, an organization established in the 1960s for asparagus researchers. This year, his sixth time attending the symposium, Drost provided the conference’s keynote address as part of his presidential responsibilities. His talk focused on asparagus productivity and offered a solution for the current problem of harvesting asparagus.
The problem, Drost said, is that asparagus has an intricate, underground root system, making it difficult to harvest. It is made worse by an increasing lack of people to harvest the plant, he added. However, Drost said that in his address he suggested that, “plant breeders start to look for and think about growing the plant in a different way.”
Drost and a few colleagues from the working group plan to explore alternative methods of growing asparagus in the near future.
“We’re going to develop some proposals and do some things so we can better understand and identify plant types that have a different growth habit and use that as a spring board to maybe change the industry,” Drost said.
During this year’s conference, Drost was re-elected president for four more years until the next symposium in 2017 that will be held in Germany.
Asparagus, he said, is something that has always been interesting to him.
“If I could spend all my time working on something, I would work on this plant because I just find it a fascinating plant,” he said.