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A Garlic Testament
Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm

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Treatment of Cloves after Planting
If using own stocks, only use the best bulbs for splitting and handle carefully. Damaged cloves will not grow. To prevent rots, dip cloves into benomyl (as Benlate) 1 kg/100 litres immediately after splitting the bulbs. Some suppliers may offer this as a service. Hot water treat if Eelworm is suspected: 46°C for 2 hours include 0.5% formaldehyde, followed by a Benlate dip as above.

Clove Size
Trials have shown that it is better to use cloves >1 g in weight. Generally the larger cloves give larger bulbs. Cloves >4 g have consistently given more bulbs over 50mm in size than 1 – 3 g. However, not all market outlets require large bulbs.

Plant Spacing
Yields per ha increase with close spacing but bulb size tends to be reduced. In trials the optimum practical spacing using cloves of 5 – 6.9 g has been 30 cm between the rows (5 rows to 1.83 m bed) and 75 mm within rows (44 plants/sq m). Smaller cloves (1 – 2.9 g) should be planted at 30 plants/sq m (100 mm within rows) to give a better chance of making up bulb size.

Planting and Depth
Yield is considerably reduced if the cloves are planted upside down, deformity can also result. The top of the clove should be 50 mm below the surface. Planting was successfully carried out with an adapted ‘Superprefer’ planter. This could work on a large scale but it is not possible to plant close enough within the row (or accurately enough) to obtain maximum optimum yield. The problem of some cloves falling upside down was never really overcome. To aid hand planting, the quickest method was to draw out a 75 mm furrow and cover in after placement.

Superprefer Planter (photo:

Superprefer Planter (photo:

A base fertiliser should be applied as for autumn sown onions, (Reference book 2192). It has always been assumed that the nitrogen requirement would also be similar to autumn sown onions. However three years of trials at Efford EHS which compared four rates of top dressings from 75 – 300 kg/ha applied at various times from January until May failed to show any response or difference between the rates. It can therefore be concluded that 75 – 150 kg/ha N depending on soil type applied in February to early March (or immediately after emergence of spring crop) meets the crop’s requirements. Traditional growers maintain too much nitrogen has an adverse effect on bulb development and quality.

Weed Control (off label)
At Efford EHS, no trials have been undertaken, but applying a tank mix of paraquat, chlorthal-dimethyl and propachlor before emergence has always given excellent weed control. Once 75 mm high post-emergence applications of chloridazon with chlobufam have been successful.

Yield is reduced if insufficient water is available during the main growing period of late March to mid June. It is therefore beneficial to irrigate during dry spells at this time. No trials work has been carried out in England and the exact response and evidence is lacking. For this reason autumn planting on light sandy soil is desirable to enable plenty of time for deep rooting and establishment.


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