QUESTION: – What time of year is garlic harvested? I’m wondering if my garlic is about ready or if I need to keep waiting. – Cindy W.
ANSWER: – Garlic is typically planted during the fall months, between September and November, and harvested during the summer. However, in temperate areas with extended growing seasons, garlic is often planted during the spring as well. If you live in the South or Southwest United States, you can pretty much plant your garlic anytime between autumn and the beginning weeks of spring. Harvests from fall plantings will be ready between June and August, depending on variety and weather conditions.
Garlic plants produce their bulbs, or root system, during the fall and winter prior to the ground freezing. Once spring rolls around, the plants will begin developing scapes, or leaves. The leaves are the key to knowing when to harvest your garlic bulbs. Most garlic varieties develop around 10 leaves. The leaves will start to discolor from the bottom up to indicate when they are ready for harvesting. When one-third to one-half of the leaves begin to turn brown or yellow, it’s time to dry out the soil and harvest your bulbs.
Water your garlic plants regularly throughout the spring, but once you notice the leaves beginning to discolor, keep a close eye on them. Once the majority of your crop is showing one-third to one-half of their leaves discolored, stop watering your garlic. In four to six days, the soil should be completely dried out and your garlic should be ready to harvest.
If the stems look extra sturdy, you may be tempted to pull up your garlic bulbs by the stem like you would an onion. However, yanking your garlic out of the ground could damage the structure of your bulbs and could negatively impact their ability to store. The leaves of the garlic plant double as protective layers that both hold together the cloves, and protect them, and when the bulbs are pulled out of the soil without loosening the dirt around them, the intricate weaving of the protective layers are pulled apart in the process.
Garlic plants must be planted in the ground prior to the cold season, as they require a one to two month period with temperatures around 40 Fahrenheit, or lower, in order to develop large bulbs. Garlic planted in the spring will not produce large bulbs, but will regrow scapes regularly for multiple harvests.
Garlic is typically harvested during the summer months, between June and August.