Guide to Garlic Farming
Have you ever thought of starting your own agricultural venture? Garlic growing business is prominent these days. There is an increased garlic demand driving more people into garlic cultivation.
- Is garlic a profitable crop?
- What are the chances of making good money from garlic farming?
Here is a guide for starting a profitable garlic farming business.
In this article we discuss why should we choose a garlic farming business and some important details to help you get started with a lucrative garlic farming business.
Why Garlic Farming?
Garlic is easy to grow. The entire steps involved in garlic cultivation from planting to curing and storing is very easy and does not involve any expensive tools or machinery. It’s a robust crop which is not easily affected by pests or other diseases. You can start garlic cultivation even in small space. It grows well in almost all types of soil, environments and climatic conditions.
Second, demand for garlic is higher than ever before. Apart from edible purposes, it also has medicinal value. It’s regarded as the second mostly used spice in the world, after pepper.
Now we have two solid reasons to think about a garlic farming business plan. In the coming sections of this article, we discuss in detail about how garlic is farmed, harvested, stored or propagated for more produce and finally sold in market. Stay tuned.
How is Garlic Farmed?
There are a lot of doubts people usually have about garlic farming, about garlic farming equipment, garlic harvesters, best varieties of garlic and so on. Here we have documented a garlic production manual to solve most of the common concerns.
Garlic is usually planted in the fall. In warmer regions, Garlic could be farmed in the early spring. Loose loamy soil is suitable for garlic cultivation. Garlic bulbs should be broken into individual cloves for planting. Choose the larger ones for planting. Avoid disease affected or bruised cloves.
Plant cloves about 2 inches deep with the tip facing up and the root end facing down. Plant them at sufficient distances apart.
Mulching is one of the best practices that can be done for garlic cultivation. Mulch is a layer of organic material applied to the surface of the soil. Mulching helps in the conserving moisture in the soil, improves quality and fertility of the soil and protect the crop from weeds. It is not recommended in wet climates. In the spring season you can remove the mulch to allow the garlic plant to grow better.
Also, proper weeding is mandatory as the weeds can outgrow garlic and arrest its growth. Do not over water your garlic crop. Over watering shortens the life of your garlic bulbs.
The two main varieties of garlic cultivated are the hardneck and the softneck varieties of garlic. Softneck varieties of garlic are suited for warm climates while the hardneck garlic varieties are usually grown in colder regions.
Sprinkler or drip irrigation is the commonly used irrigation technique for garlic crops. With proper mulching and a systematic irrigation schedule, your garlic yield per hectare will be high.
Garlic does not do well with extreme cold or the summer heat. Proper mulching is an effective way to protect your garlic crop from temperature extremes and regulate soil temperatures.
Harvesting of Garlic
Ensure the soil is dry two to three weeks before harvesting. This is to avoid the growth of mold.
Garlic is usually harvested in the late summers. Harvesting is done by loosening the soil by a shovel, and then gently pulling up the plant by hand. Try a few garlic bulbs first to test maturity. The bulb of garlic should be well wrapped. Harvested garlic is then either moved for storing or transported for selling in the market.
In case of hardneck varieties of garlic, they grow a curly green flower stalk called scape. The best practice is to harvest garlic scape during the growth of the plant, so that the garlic plant could have larger bulbs. You can also allow the garlic scapes to grow, they are edible, tasty and healthy.
Some farmers prefer garlic to be planted in a three-year crop rotation cycle. If you are planning to grow garlic in a crop rotation cycle, the preferred other crops would be tomatoes, broccoli or onion. Crop rotation is a much wider topic in itself. If you are planning for crop rotation, a complete research on the best options available is required.
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Challenges in Growing Garlic
We already mentioned about garlic being a robust crop not easily affected by diseases and pests. Let us also see some common pests and diseases affecting garlic produce.
White rot fungus is the most common among them. Leaves of the affected plant turns yellow and the garlic plant wilts and uproots eventually. Microscopic pests, Nematodes are another serious threat to garlic crop. These are tiny creatures which live and reproduce inside the garlic plant, consuming the plant.
Garlic plants are also affected by insects like the Onion thrips. They damage leaves of the plant and sucks the plant fluids. The wounds caused by these insects causes other diseases too. Eventually the plant wilts and dies.
Mulching sometimes makes your garlic farm prone to Onion thrips, as these insects breed on wet areas. So extra care has to be given to your farm in case your do mulching.
Care could be taken to protect garlic crop from pests and diseases by using only disease-free cloves for planting. All the equipment used for soil preparation, weeding, harvesting, handling and storing garlic has to be cleaned and sanitized. If you are noticing any particular problem in the year’s produce, opt for crop rotation. Proper weeding and also restrain from putting waste in your farm.
Storing Your Garlic Produce?
Garlic has to be cured after harvesting if you need to store garlic for winter seasons. Garlic produce is placed in a dark place with good circulation of air for 2-3 weeks for curing. Cured garlic can be stored for up to 6 to 12 months without any issues.
Garlic should be stored at a place with good air circulation and optimum temperature and humidity.
How Garlic is Propagated?
Garlic propagation is the method of multiplying a small amount of garlic in hand into more. This helps in saving your initial investment.
Individual cloves separated from garlic bulbs are planted for garlic propagation. In case of hard neck garlic varieties, they have bulbils – tiny undivided bulbs found in the scapes of hard neck garlic. These bulbils can be planted for garlic propagation.
There are a number of advantages with multiplying our garlic stock by planting cloves or bulbils. Some of them are:
Saving on initial investment and produce better profits out of garlic farming.
This way we could grow garlic that is suited to local climate and soil conditions.
How to Sell Your Garlic Produce?
There are many ways to sell your garlic produce.
Firstly, there is the traditional way of selling in farmer’s markets. There is high demand for organic products these days. People come in crowds to farmer’s markets to purchase fresh produce directly from local growers of garlic.
There are middlemen who buy in large quantities from farmers and sell in retail markets. But with them, you lose a part of your profit.
With the advent of technology, there is a new practice of posting ads online. These ads get visibility among a much bigger audience. In this way you can reach out to people who are looking for fresh organic garlic produce.
There is difference in the revenue when we choose from the above different mediums for selling our produce. Before selecting your mode of selling, do a cost vs revenue analysis, so that garlic farming could make good profits for you. Having a well-structured garlic farming business plan in place, is equally important as the farming techniques.
In some countries, government provide organic certifications after inspecting your farm stating that the garlic produce is obtained with only organic fertilizers and no chemical fertilizers or pesticides are used. Getting such certifications are advantageous while selling your produce in the market.
Price of your garlic depends on the variety of garlic you are selling, organic certifications, place where you sell and mode of selling.
After harvesting, make sure you burn all the garlic waste. Also, if there are any diseases identified in year’s production, opt for a three or five year crop rotation.
Sum Up – Garlic Farming Business
So far, we have seen a lot of useful stuff about garlic farming and garlic business. Do your research and get more informed about the updated garlic business ideas. Read about the most profitable garlic varieties to grow.
In all ways, this aromatic and attractive plant is your answer to a successful farming business with a limited budget and restricted space.