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Unless you use ready prepared cloves for planting, the first job to be done is to split the garlic bulbs into cloves. The job is made easier if the bulbs are dried further so that the outer skin splits allowing access to the cloves. Only the best bulbs are used for planting and should be handled carefully to prevent damage. Dipping the cloves in fungicide immediately after splitting can help prevent rotting. Some suppliers offer this as a service. If Stem Nematode is a problem, the cloves can be hot-water treated at 46ºC for 2 hours in a 0.5% formaldehyde solution, prior to the fungicide dip.

ADAS trials have shown that it is best to use cloves greater than 1g in weight. Large cloves result in large bulbs at harvest. Cloves weighing more than 4g have consistently given a higher number of bulbs over 50mm in diameter than those of 1g - 3g.

Yields per hectare have been shown to increase with closer spacing but at the expense of bulb size. In trials, the optimum practical spacing using cloves of 5g - 6.9g has been 30cm between the rows (5 rows to a 1.83m bed), and 75mm within the rows (44 plants per sq. m). Smaller cloves (1g - 2.9g) should be planted at 100mm in the rows (30 plants per sq. m) to provide a better chance of making adequate bulb size. In practice it has been proved worthwhile grading cloves for planting and treating the grades separately.

If cloves are planted upside down, yield is reduced and deformities increase. The clove tip should be 50mm beneath the soil surface. Planting methods are:-

Super Prefer Planter. This can be adapted for use but will not plant closely enough and can plant cloves upside down.

The Accord Planter.

This opens a furrow into which the cloves are placed and then closes the furrow with a pair of press wheels.

(Image is a Kverneland 8-row Accord Planter - courtesy of Profota's Farm Equipment)




Or simply open a 75mm furrow with a plough, place the cloves by hand and manually cover with soil.


Nutrition will depend on the natural fertility of the soil type being used. Application of base fertilizer suitable for autumn sown onions provides adequate supplies of phosphate, potash and magnesium. At Soil Index 2, for example, for phosphate and potash, 150kg per ha phosphate and 125kg per ha potash would be applied.

Trials on nitrogen response were carried out at Efford EHS. Four rates of top dressings from 75 - 300 kg per ha were applied at various times from January until May and these were compared. There were no response differences between the rates and it is suggested that 75 - 150 kg per ha nitrogen applied February / early March will be suitable. Too much nitrogen may adversely affect bulb development and quality.


There is no trials information on the water requirements of garlic, but yield will be reduced if there is insufficient water available in the main growing period of late March to mid June. Irrigation during dry periods at this time will be beneficial. Spring planting on very light soils should be avoided as there will be insufficient time for full rooting and establishment.

Weed Control

Although experience has shown that herbicides for bulb onions are effective and safe for garlic, very few of these materials actually have label approval for use on garlic. Perennial weeds should be eradicated before planting and a residual herbicide applied soon after planting to keep the ground free of weeds over winter. A further residual is applied in spring and contact / residual materials used for later weed control. Currently, Simazine, Linuron, Fluazifop-P-Butyl and Ethofumasate have off-label approval for use on garlic.

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