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Harvest Considerations for Garlic

Crystal Stewart-Courtens, 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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Eastern Broccoli Market Opportunity Assessment

Is there an opportunity for New York growers and marketers to invest in broccoli production and distribution as a way to diversify and strengthen their businesses, while adding jobs, dollars, and resilience to the economy and rural communities?

The Eastern Broccoli Market Opportunity Assessment for New York State sought to answer this very question. The study was made possible by the initiative of three partner organizations: Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation, Red Tomato, and the Eastern Broccoli Project, with funding provided by Empire State Development.


Essentials of Farm Food Safety for Farmworkers

Call to Schedule a Tailored Training for Your Farm Workers
This is a training is brought to you by the CCE Cornell Vegetable Program. Workers will learn the importance of farm food safety and the ins and outs of how it works on the farm and field.

This training aims to cover many of the required worker training topics set forth by GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices and FSMA (the Food Safety Modernization Act), or other 3rd party auditing programs. This training series primarily focuses on training farmworkers in the produce industry. Because Food Safety is a company-wide responsibility, we invite all farm employees to participate in this training. Each farm has unique operating practices but the basics of food safety are critical skill set needed for workers to have if a smoothly operating food safety program is going to work on your farm. Topics covered include:
  • Understand the role of worker training in ensuring food safety on your farm
  • Cover all the important points required for training
  • Identify challenges to consider when training workers and discuss solutions
  • Cover required records for training
  • Introduce resources available to managers to assist in training
  • Why is farm food safety important?
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  • What are the signs that you or a coworker are ill?
  • How can you minimize food safety risks on the farm?
  • What should you do if you see a risk you cannot reduce or eliminate?
  • And much more
We can provide a tailored training for your workers through an online program before the season starts or combine workers with another farm to do a larger training. Contact Robert Hadad for more information.

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