In total 637 accessions of the genus Asparagus are currently present in the worldwide PGR database GENESYS. From the centre of biodiversity of the genus, namely the East-Mediterranean and Black Sea area, only 44 accessions are present. Therefore a collecting expedition took place in 2012 in this area to sample populations of cultivated asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) and its wild relatives. This expedition was carried out in close cooperation between CGN and local experts in Armenia and Azerbaijan. In total 79 populations were sampled which consisted of three asparagus species, namely A. officinalis, A. verticillatus, and A. persicus, and a number of taxonomically unidentified accessions. Currently 13 accessions have been regenerated and are available. In the coming years more accessions will become available for research and breeding after successful regeneration.
The available asparagus collection at CGN consists of two accessions collected in the wild and 11 landraces. Nine accessions of A. officinalis are present in the current CGN collection, one accession is probably A. persicus and from one accession the species name is unclear.
To ensure sufficient seed viability, the germination of Asparagus accessions is determined when the seedlot enters the collection. Threshold values are 80% for cultivated material and 60% for accessions of wild species. When included in the collection, the germination is monitored at regular intervals of 19 years. When more is known about the storability of Asparagus seeds, this interval might be changed.
The Asparagus species in the collection are dioecious species, and the flowers are pollinated by insects (bees and/or bumblebees). It may take one to three years after sowing before enough flowers develop for seed production. The accessions are regenerated in isolation under controlled greenhouse conditions or in outdoor regeneration tunnels. In general around 80 plants are used for the regeneration.
The berries are harvested when red. The seeds are removed and cleaned by mashing, threshing and soaking or rinsing in water to remove the skin and pulp. After threshing and rinsing the seeds are being dried back carefully before further cleaning.
More information on the drying of the seeds and packaging procedures before storage.
Characterization & Evaluation
No characterization or evaluation of the asparagus material regenerated has taken place yet.