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ADAS Report on Production of Garlic in South East Wales ©Crown copyright 1982 - 1993. Reproduced by Garlicworld under licence from the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

Prepared by A. Swatton, Horticultural Consultant, ADAS Cardiff, St. Agnes Road, Gabalfa, Cardiff CF4 4YH


Following the meeting between myself and Bryan Edwards at the DBRW, Newtown Office, on 22 April and a subsequent letter of affirmation dated 17 May 1993, the report that follows describes the factors that will be taken into consideration for possible garlic production in south east Wales.


Garlic is often considered to be a Mediterranean crop but is in fact successfully grown, albeit on a small scale, in the UK. The largest UK producer is situated on the Isle of Wight, growing approximately 50 acres of garlic. ADAS has carried out trials on garlic, both at Efford Experimental Horticulture Station in Hampshire and Stockbridge House Experimental Horticulture Station in Yorkshire. Even on this northerly site, satisfactory yields of garlic were achieved even in 1990/91 which had a very cool spring and early summer. Nearer to home, garlic has been successfully grown in the Welsh border region near Presteigne.

Garlic has certain climatic requirements for success:

  1. A “cold requirement”. It is necessary to expose dormant cloves or young plants to temperatures of 0 - 10ºC for 1 - 2 months. This normally occurs in storage sheds, or after the crop has been planted in the case of an autumn planting, in the field from September until December.
  2. A “warm spring”. Maximum vegetative growth occurs at temperatures around 16ºC in short days between late March and mid June. Accordingly, warm temperatures at this time of the year are important to optimise leaf production, which is then responsible for swelling the garlic bulbs.
  3. A “dry harvest”. Dry weather at harvest in late July / early August is essential to ensure clean skins on the bulbs and to reduce the incidence of rotting in subsequent storage.

It is suggested that garlic is planted from mid October until mid November, but this may be dictated by soil conditions. ADAS has found that yield is little affected by late varieties, as late as February. Soil type should be freely drained and easily worked, not only for good planting conditions but also for winter survival, rapid soil warming in spring and easy harvesting. Water supplies in the growing period must be adequate to facilitate maximum leaf production.

Winter survival has not been a problem in UK trials, garlic being quite hardy.

Local topography (site, slope, shelter) can make quite a difference to the performance of the crop because of the temperature requirement of the crop.

Suitable soils predominate in the area of the Wye and Usk valleys, notably Oglethorpe Series, a deep well-drained loam over gravel in the Usk valley, especially in the Brecon-Crickhowell area. Also, Bromyard Series, a well-drained fine silt, east of the Black Mountains and in the Hay-on-Wye area of the Wye Valley. Meteorological data from the area is included in Appendix 1, in comparison with similar data from the Isle of Wight and Stockbridge House areas. On average, this area has a slightly wetter spring but late summer rainfall and spring / summer temperatures compare well with the other sites.


Calendar of Production

Unless ready-prepared cloves are bought in, the cycle begins with splitting garlic bulbs into individual cloves for planting in September. These will need to be sorted by size and dipped in fungicide for planting. Cloves are planted direct into the field in October and November, but late varieties could be delayed until February. Trials work has shown that planting cloves in peat blocks, over-wintering in glass or plastic tunnels and planting out in spring, is feasible but expensive.
Vegetative growth occurs from late March until the beginning of June. At this stage, in response to day length, the plant begins to produce the bulb, which continues until mid-July. The bulbing period can be shortened by drought or extremely high temperatures. The crop is then harvested from late July until the middle of August, is “dressed”, dried and stored for sale if necessary.

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