Indiana State University Newsroom

Students yield solutions for asparagus producer

May 18, 2015

Helping Indiana producer Melon Acres bolster asparagus production opened up a world of new experiences to Indiana State University business majors.

Expanding on the outline and structure the company's supply chain that students started in the fall, five students continued the work this spring by analyzing the balance between over- and under-producing asparagus in terms of cost, forecasting production and predicting an overall profit and internal costs associated with the process to determine if customer demand is being met.

"Usually we would be supplied with numbers to solve problems, but this project was more difficult because we had to come up with the data on our own to solve the problem, which involved a lot of phone calls and emails to the company," said Neily Stough, a junior operations and supply chain management major from Terre Haute in the fundamentals of supply chain management course taught by Kuntal Bhattacharyya, assistant professor of operations and supply chain management.

Stough, along with students Rayquel McGee of Belleville, Ill., Celso Castagnoli of Terre Haute, Landon Willis of Indianapolis, and Aaron Storey of Indianapolis, were involved in the ongoing project with Melon Acres - a family-owned company that produces asparagus, cantaloupe, watermelon, sweet corn and cucumbers on nearly 1,000 acres in Oaktown.

The group visited Melon Acres and spoke with the special projects coordinator, who provided historical figures to help determine demand data. Stough said it was determined that the company produces, on average, 720,000 pounds of asparagus during 60 days of harvest, or an average of 12,000 pounds per day.

The students described the process of getting the asparagus from the fields to the packaging facilities and suggested further analysis could provide improvements.

The goal was to maximize overall asparagus production by developing varies models, increase sales percentages and more efficiently transport asparagus from fields to the packaging facility.

"If 11,600 pounds of asparagus are produced per day, the company with meet customer demand 60 percent of the time," said Willis, a senior business administration major. "We recommend producing at a rate that their cost of over and under production are equal, so it's recommended that the company determine if a 60 percent level is feasible by analyze competitors and recommend research market.

"We determined that asparagus is a profitable crop," Willis said. "The company should determine if it is worth the invest to increase service level using a 5- to 10- year plan that looks at where they want to see themselves within their market."

Contact: Kuntal Bhattacharyya, assistant professor of operations and supply chain management,

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or