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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Plant Garlic in the Fall for Summer Harvest

LAS CRUCES -- Garlic should be planted in the fall for the best summer harvest, said George Dickerson, horticultural specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

"Like the tulip, garlic is best planted in the autumn," Dickerson said. "Garlic cloves planted in fall will develop root systems that help get plants off to an early start in spring."

Cloves should be planted by hand, one to three inches deep and four to six inches apart, with scar end down and tip up. Leaves emerge from the pointed tip and cloves will waste a lot of energy trying to right themselves if planted upside down.

"Selecting the right variety is critical", Dickerson said. "California Early has been an excellent producer in on-farm trials conducted throughout the state. It has a mild taste with a slightly sweet flavor. "

Phosphorus fertilizers should be incorporated into the soil before planting, to encourage root production. Nitrogen applications should include a small dose in fall and a larger amount in spring to encourage foliage growth.

Garlic is generally harvested in July when the leaves start to dry down. After trimming off the excess roots, leaves and bulbs are often braided and hung up to dry.

Larger cloves produce larger bulbs, Dickerson said. Growers may wish to plant the largest cloves in the best soil for maximum production.