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Colorado Garlic:

Expanding Markets Through Improved Cold Storage Methods (2002 Project)

and

Improving Economics with a Spring Green Crop and Optimizing Summer Harvest Dates (2003 Project)

     
Garlic harvest at Yucca Ridge Farm
 

Project Leader: Walter Lyons, Yucca Ridge Farm, Wellington, CO

Technical Advisor: Gayle Volk, USDA-ARS NCGRP

Summary from 2002 Annual Report

Varietal garlic bulbs ( Allium sativum L.) are commonly stored at room temperature after harvest (mid-summer) and curing. The bulbs are then either consumed or used as planting stock in the fall. Thereafter, the quality of the bulbs usually deteriorates rapidly within four to six months of harvest. Come the following spring and early summer, there are few, if any, domestic sources of "fresh" garlic, especially from small organic growers (the main producers of varietal and specialty garlics).

If a cold storage technique could be demonstrated to prolong quality into the following year, this would greatly enhance marketing opportunities for small growers. Moreover, if the garlic stock remained viable into the following spring, this would provide an opportunity for spring planting. Spring planting may be highly desirable for Colorado growers, for whom overwintering a garlic crop imposes significant demands for mulching and maintaining soil moisture.

On 20 September, several hardneck and softneck varieties from the fall, 2001 harvest were cold stored at 0ºC and -3ºC at the USDA-ARS National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation. With removals beginning on 6 April 2002 , we demonstrated that most varietal garlic bulbs stored at -3ºC for 6 months successfully formed cloves within bulbs when spring planted (6 and 26 April). While mean bulb size was somewhat reduced when compared with their fall counterparts, the bulbs were of high quality and commercial size. After 9 months of -3ºC storage, bulbs then held at room temperature retained the quality characteristics of recently harvested garlic (firmness, taste) for at least two months, often longer. Garlic bulbs stored at warmer temperatures (0ºC, 5ºC, 15ºC, 23ºC) exhibited a higher rate of shoot elongation within the cloves than bulbs stored at -3ºC. These studies suggest that varietal garlics can be spring planted and consumed year round when bulbs are stored at -3ºC after the curing process is complete.

Click here to see the 2002 Final Report (Word Document) for "Expanding Markets Through Improved Cold Storage Methods".

2003 Project

The objective of this project was to determine how to efficiently produce and market green garlic, or baby spring garlic. Green garlic is the leaf of the plant; which at 12-16 inches, looks like a scallion, but tastes like garlic and makes a great stir fry addition.

Five varieties of garlic were planted (ERI, Elephant, Marino, Metechi, and Music) in the fall, spring, and summer. Both hardneck and softneck varieties were trialed and different clove sizes were evaluated for greens production.

Results

Large cloved hardnecks produced leaves that were too thick. Spring planted (April 14) was thinner and less lush than the June and July plantings. The June harvested crop was allowed to regrow, but the quality of the regrown leaves was inferior and it was determined that sequential plantings would be better than relying on regrowth.

The next question is, once harvested, what is the best way to package it for maximim shelf life? Many variables were tested and it was shown that shelf life of 15-20 days could be expected as long as the garlic leaves are free of dirt and debris. Rinsing the greens increased shelf life and eye appeal. Softnecks had only a slightly better shelf life than hardnecks.   Packaged garlic spears

 

 

 

Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture