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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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Upcoming Events

Women in Agriculture Discussion Group: Urban Farming

May 6, 2019
Monday, 6:30 - 8:00 PM
Buffalo, NY

Each monthly Women in Ag discussion group meeting will feature an established, innovative Farm-her leading the group on a tour of her operation and sharing her expertise on business management and production. Several guest speakers, as well as Cornell Vegetable Program staff, will be brought in to act as resource people for developing solutions to common production challenges.

The May 6 meeting will cover positive public relations and navigating municipal ordinances in urban farming. The meeting will be hosted by Mayda Pozantides (Groundwork Market Garden) and Allison DeHonney (Urban Fruits & Veggies). Participants will learn about production in urban soils and how to adapt farming techniques for urban environments.
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Women in Agriculture Discussion Group: Small Fruit & Vegetable Production plus Insect Control

July 15, 2019
Monday, time TBA
East Aurora, NY

Each monthly Women in Ag discussion group meeting will feature an established, innovative Farm-her leading the group on a tour of her operation and sharing her expertise on business management and production. Several guest speakers, as well as Cornell Vegetable Program staff, will be brought in to act as resource people for developing solutions to common production challenges.

The July 15 meeting will cover small fruit production and insect control led by Elizabeth Buck, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program, and Abby Seaman, NYS IPM Program. The meeting will be hosted by Gayle and Naomi Thorpe (Thorpe's Organic Family Farm). Gayle and Naomi will share their experiences managing a diversified organic farming operation and family farm transitions.
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Announcements

How to Take a Soil Sample

Soil sampling is an important part of managing your crops, but it's important to do it correctly. In this video created by the Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program, Vegetable Specialist Amy Ivy demonstrates how to take a soil sample.

For more information or to get soil sampling forms and supplies, visit Agro-One online.

Cornell Commercial Vegetable Guidelines Available

The 2019 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 2019 Vegetable Guidelines include:
  • Updated pesticide options for economically important vegetable crop pests.
  • New pests: beet armyworm in beets; cabbage looper and tarnished plant bug in lettuce and endive; allium leafminer in onions; and Cladosporium, Cercospora, and Stemphylium leaf spots in spinach.
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 many local Cornell Cooperative Extension offices, 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 2011-2019 are available online.

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