Asparagus | South Carolina Public Radio


"A" is for Asparagus. Asparagus was an important cash crop in South Carolina from the 1910s until the mid-1930s. With cotton prices low and the boll weevil creeping closer, farmers in the "Ridge" counties of Aiken, Edgefield, and Saluda began planting asparagus to supplement declining cotton income. By 1916 they had organized as Asparagus Growers Association and shipped 44 railroad carloads to northern markets. High prices during World War I led farmers in neighboring counties to plant the vegetable. By 1923 South Carolina farmers were shipping hundreds of carloads yearly and the state was one of the top five asparagus producers in the country. Adverse weather and weakening markets during the Depression gradually undermined the crop. Ultimately, South Carolina’s market share was absorbed by Florida and California, and peach orchards rose where cotton and asparagus once flourished.