Sunday, July 21, 2013

Storing Seed Garlic

There is lots of advice around on harvesting, drying, and storing garlic. My garlic has been pulled and is now hanging in the shed for final drying before I clean it and cut the stems off. They will spend their time in my basement where it will hopefully be cool enough so they keep until I want to use them. I will select the largest bulbs and set them aside as seed garlic for planting this fall. Are the storage requirements for seed garlic any different, since I only need to keep them a few months? It appears they are, and it was a surprise to me.


The July 18 issue of the UMass Extension Vegetable Notes has a section with the usual advice for harvesting and drying garlic, with an obvious tilt toward small farmers rather than home gardeners. Regardless, I find their advice useful. What particularly intrigued me was the advice on storing seed garlic. Obviously, seed garlic should be of highest quality, using the largest bulbs, with no obvious disease or nematode damage. But seed garlic should be stored at 50° F (10 °C) at a relative humidity of 65-70%.


The reasons for this requirement are, to quote them:

  • Garlic cloves break dormancy most rapidly between 40 to 50 °F (4 to 10 °C), hence prolonged storage at this temperature range should be avoided.

  • Storage of planting stock at temperatures below 40 °F (4 °C) results in rough bulbs,
    side-shoot sprouting (witches-brooms) and early maturity,

  • Storage above 65 °F (18 °C) results in delayed sprouting and late maturity.


Wow, so I need to store my seed garlic at 50-65 °F (10-18 °C) with 65-70% humidity! Off to find such a place around here with outdoor temps around 99 °F (37 °C), while I am sitting here writing this sliding around in my shorts.

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