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USU Professor Leads Research on 'Fascinating' Plant

Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013

USU professor Daniel Drost

USU professor Daniel Drost is a leading asparagus researcher and was recently re-elected as president of the Asparagus Working Group.

The asparagus plant is just one of many vegetables, but there is one Utah State University professor who has built much of his research around this one plant.

College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences CAAS professor, Daniel Drost, is a leader in asparagus research, and is among other specialists from around the globe who gathered recently at 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 in a different country, was hosted most recently in Nanchang, China, of the Jiangxi Province, a sister state to Utah.  Delegates from 18 countries gathered to discuss research and outreach strategies for the asparagus plant.

In 2009 at the last symposium, Drost was elected 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 fewer people to harvest the plant, he said. 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.”

In the near future, Drost and several colleagues from the working group plan to explore alternative methods of growing asparagus.

“We’re going to develop 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 springboard to, perhaps, change the industry,” Drost said.

During this year’s conference Drost was re-elected president for four more years, serving until the next symposium in 2017 to 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.

Related links:

Plants, Soils and Climate Department

College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences

Contact: Daniel Drost, 435-797-2258,

Writer: Allie Jeppson Jurkatis, 435-797-7406, allie.jeppson3@gmail

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