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Harvest Considerations for Garlic

Crystal Stewart, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

August 7, 2012

Harvest Considerations for Garlic
Normally we think of garlic harvest time being somewhere around mid to late July, but very little about this year is normal! Garlic is maturing considerably ahead of schedule, with some growers on light soil or plastic already beginning to pull some varieties now. In some cases the plants are not dying back on schedule with the bulb, so don't just use that as an indicator. If you have had any foliar disease or thrips feeding, the foliage may be ahead of the bulbs. If your garlic has been kept very healthy and well watered the leaves may actually be behind. I have been pulling a fair amount of garlic in the last few days which only has a couple of leaves dead but which will probably be ready to harvest very early next week.

If leaves aren't the best indicator of maturity, how else can you tell? The best indicator is how the cloves are filling the wrapper leaves. Take a couple of average looking plants from each variety, and cut them in half perpendicular to the stem so that you are cutting through all of the cloves. Each clove should be tight in its wrapper leaves. If there is any give when you squeeze the bulb, or the wrapper leaves seem a little loose around the cloves the garlic will continue to expand for a little while longer (figure 1). A few of the outer wrapper leaves will probably be breaking down. That is normal.

You can also look at the shape of each clove. Cloves start out being more or less round, and expand to more of a wedge shape (figure 1). As garlic reaches full maturity, the cloves will pull very slightly away from the scape on hardneck varieties.

If you let the garlic stay in the ground too long, too many wrapper leaves will decay and the cloves will continue to expand until the garlic actually splits open. At this point the garlic becomes virtually unmarketable. Make sure that you check your garlic every few days, especially as we move into another warm stretch of weather.

As you are harvesting, keep in mind that you want to reduce the amount of water that you bring into your drying area and you want to avoid scalding your garlic during harvest. If you can harvest early in the morning (before 11 or so, depending on how hot the day is) on a dry day, then clean in the shade during the afternoon, you should have the best results possible. Allowing garlic to sit out in the field exposed to the sun can result in sun scalding, which will cause affected cloves to break down. If you have to harvest in wet weather try to remove as much mud as possible and to get any foliage you leave on the plant as dry as possible before moving it into the curing area. The higher the relative humidity is in your curing area, the slower the garlic will dry down. The slower the garlic dries, the more potential there is for disease. Dry garlic means lower relative humidity right from the start!

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Dry Beans

Eggplant

Eggplant

Ethnic Vegetables

Ethnic Vegetables

Garlic

Garlic

Horseradish

Horseradish

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

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Leeks

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

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Potatoes

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Pumpkins / Gourds

Radishes

Radishes

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Sweet Corn

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Tomatoes

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Upcoming Events

Orleans Produce Auction Growers Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 23, 2018
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Lyndonville, NY

This course will demonstrate pest management in fresh market vegetables in both field and greenhouse (high tunnel) vegetables; primarily for those growing for wholesale auction. A hands-on demonstration of weed, insect and disease identification in vegetables including management options such as inter-row cover crops, grafting and where appropriate, spray options will be used to educate growers. Judson Reid, Senior Extension Associate with the Cornell Vegetable Program along with CCE staff will instruct participants and facilitate peer-based learning. Details on each topic will focus on field observations at the farm.
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Seneca County Produce Auction Growers Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 25, 2018
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Ovid, NY

This course will demonstrate pest management in fresh market vegetables in both field and greenhouse (high tunnel) vegetables; primarily for those growing for wholesale auction. A hands-on demonstration of weed, insect and disease identification in vegetables including management options such as inter-row cover crops, grafting and where appropriate, spray options will be used to educate growers. Judson Reid, Senior Extension Associate with the Cornell Vegetable Program along with CCE staff will instruct participants and facilitate peer-based learning. Details on each topic will focus on field observations at the farm.
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Finger Lakes Produce Auction Growers Meeting (Yates)

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 27, 2018
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Dundee, NY

This course will demonstrate pest management in fresh market vegetables in both field and greenhouse (high tunnel) vegetables; primarily for those growing for wholesale auction. A hands-on demonstration of weed, insect and disease identification in vegetables including management options such as inter-row cover crops, grafting and where appropriate, spray options will be used to educate growers. Judson Reid, Senior Extension Associate with the Cornell Vegetable Program along with CCE staff will instruct participants and facilitate peer-based learning. Details on each topic will focus on field observations at the farm.
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Announcements

Managing Bird Damage in Sweet Corn

Former CCE Cornell Vegetable Program Specialist Darcy Telenko shares information on her on-farm research of bird management options to minimize damage to sweet corn in this video and final report. Learn more about the tools she evaluated -- chemical control, air dancers, scare-eye balloons, and detasseling.

Watch the video now! 
Read the final report now!

This research was supported by a Northeast SARE Partnership Grant and the New York Farm Viability Institute.

Vegetable Sizing Templates Available

To assist farmers looking to sell into wholesale markets, vegetable sizing templates are now available for bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash. The crop templates are scaled to size (8.5 x 11 paper). They can be printed and used to create sizing templates to be used by workers on the wash and pack lines. Additional grading resources are available too.

Growing for Wholesale Guidelines Available

Grading and packing guidelines are available for 16 commonly grown specialty crops in NYS: broccoli crowns, Brussels sprouts, corn, green peppers, cucumbers, green cabbage, red cabbage, savory cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, green beans, jalapenos, poblanos, Hungarian hot peppers, summer squash, and zucchini.

Acceptable quality standards and common defects that should be sorted out on the grading line are depicted in these resources, both visually and in outline form. Find all of the grading sheets here.

Cornell Commercial Vegetable Guidelines Available

The 2018 Cornell Integrated Crop and Pest Management Guidelines for Commercial Vegetable Production are now available!

Written by Cornell University specialists, this publication is designed to offer producers, seed and chemical dealers, and crop consultants practical information on growing and managing vegetable crops in New York State. Topics include general culture, nutrient management, transplant production, postharvest handling, organic production, and managing common vegetable crop pest concerns. A preview of the Vegetable Guidelines can be seen online.

Highlighted changes in the 2018 Vegetable Guidelines include:
  • Updated pesticide options for economically important vegetable crop pests.
  • Significantly revised pest management practices.
  • New onion and sweet corn IPM scouting report forms.
Cornell Crop and Pest Management Guidelines are available as a print copy ($41), online-only access ($41), or a package combining print and online access ($57.50). Shipping charges will be added to your order. Cornell Guidelines can be obtained through your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office, or from the Cornell Store at Cornell University or call (844) 688-7620.

Empire State Producers EXPO Proceedings

Proceedings from the Empire State Producers EXPO conference from 2011-2018 are available online.

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