Low-temperature Storage of Garlic for Spring Planting

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  • 1 Plant Germplasm Preservation Research Unit, National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Ft. Collins, CO 80521
  • 2 Yucca Ridge Farm, Inc., 46050 Weld County Road 13, Ft. Collins, CO 80524

Garlic bulbs (Allium sativum L.) harvested in the summer are often stored at room temperature between the time of harvest and curing and either consumption or planting in the fall. The quality of these bulbs usually deteriorates dramatically by 6 months after harvest. Garlic bulbs were placed at -3, 0, or 5 °C for ≈6 months to determine if bulbs could be maintained for spring planting. Response to cold-storage conditions was cultivar dependent. We found that most cured garlic bulbs stored at -3 °C for 6 months successfully formed cloves within bulbs when planted in the following spring. Unlike the high-quality bulbs formed after -3 °C storage, bulbs stored at 0 °C for 6 months often formed side cloves and had loose wrappers. In another study, garlic bulbs stored at 0, 5, 15, or 23 °C exhibited a higher rate of shoot elongation within the cloves during storage than bulbs stored at -3 °C. After 9 months of -3 °C storage, bulbs then held at room temperature retained the quality characteristics of freshly harvested garlic (firmness, taste) for at least 2 months. These studies suggest that cured garlic can be spring planted and consumed year-round when bulbs are stored at -3 °C.

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