Have you ever thought about how garlic is cultivated? This spice is loved by the world over and rightfully so due to its many health benefits.
However, we aren’t going to be discussing its health benefits but on how you can start a garlic farm. Exciting right? It is.
We’ll show you the basic steps you need to follow as a beginner crop farmer to succeed.
Starting a Garlic Farming Business
To start a garlic farm, one of the major decisions to make is what garlic variety to cultivate. Now, there are lots of variety. All of these varieties can be broadly categorized under the softneck and hardneck garlic categories.
Now, these names might sound a bit confusing for some and call for further explanation.
The neck in both names simply refers to the stalk which sprouts upwards from the garlic bulk. Garlic varieties categorized under softneck have leaves in place of central hard stalks. The name stems from the leaves which remain soft and flexible even after reaching maturation.
For hardneck garlic varieties, there’s a common feature that has to do with the stalks turning rigid at maturity.
Most Profitable Garlic to Grow
- Softneck Varieties
Garlic varieties under the softneck category include Galiano, Artichoke, Lorz Italian, Silverskin garlic, California Late, California Early, Early Red Italian, Polish Toch, Applegate, and Red Toch.
Garlic varieties found under the hardneck category include Porcelain, Polish Hardneck, Purple Striped, Rocambole, Gesnok Red, and Purple Star.
Making A Decision on Which Variety to Plant
Deciding which garlic variety is best depends on your understanding of what grows best under certain conditions.
Most of the garlic varieties you’d find in supermarkets are softneck varieties. This is due to its higher number of cloves per bulb. The downside with growing the softneck varieties is that they are less tolerant to prolonged cold temperatures.
So, what garlic variety will work best for your farm? It all depends on what you want as well as your location. Among the softneck garlic varieties, two are most recognized than the others. Antichoke and Silverskin are among the favorite species with farmers.
The reasons are obvious. They produce twice as many cloves per bulb than the other varieties. These are also more tolerant of different soil types.
One of the decisions to make as a farmer is to ensure the soil condition is ideal for growing garlic. Now, garlic is known to a growing on a variety of soil types that range from clay-loam, sandy, silt and loamy.
However such soils should be fertile and well-drained.
The presence of an adequate amount of organic matter must also be found in the soil. Waterlogged areas won’t be ideal for cultivating garlic and should be avoided.
Choose A Favorable Climatic Condition
Favorable climatic conditions that support the growth of garlic include an adequate supply of sunlight.
Also, areas with partial shade will support the establishment of a farm. Extreme conditions such as arid or dry regions as well as frosty areas won’t be favorable for cultivating this crop.
Land preparation can be done in two main ways; manual or mechanized tilling. For greater efficiency and productivity, it’s best to go for mechanized tilling. Although it’s efficient, it will cost you more.
Tilling will not be necessary for lowland areas, unlike highland areas that require it.
In preparing the land for planting, you should apply about 25 cartloads of compost to a hectare of land. This should be followed by irrigation to create moisture. Irrigation should only be done a day before planting.
One thing you must avoid is to create a waterlogged condition.
Having selected and prepared the land for cultivation, you’ll need to know how to go about planting your seedlings.
Your seedlings should be inserted at a depth of 2 to 3 cm. Apart from the depth, you’ll also need to provide adequate spacing between the seeds. This is to help allow for the proper development of the garlic bulbs.
Cloves should be planted at a spacing of 20 x 20 cm from each other. To improve the soil condition and keep it cool, it will be necessary to mulch the area after cultivation. A variety of materials can be used for mulching depending on what’s available.
The most commonly used mulching materials include polyethylene, hull, grass, and sawdust.
Growth And Harvest
Having cultivated your garlic farm, you’ll have to tend the plants for the duration of its growth until it reaches full maturity. There are a few steps to follow in taking care of your crops. These include weeding. Weeds compete for nutrients with crops.
As such, these should be removed as often as necessary.
Some degree of irrigation will be necessary at the early stages and when bulbs begin to form. Irrigation is only needed when there’s little or inadequate supply of rainfall. The application of appropriate fertilizer is also essential to encourage growth.
Garlic takes about 5 months from the time of cultivation to attain full maturity. So, how do you know when the time is right for harvest? Easy! The leaves give you a clue. Discoloration of the leaves, especially when it begins to turn yellowish or brownish signals the need to harvest your crop.
These plants are uprooted and allowed to dry and cure for about 2 to 3 weeks. Curing helps preserve and improve the lifespan of the crop. However, doing this right requires providing adequate ventilation. A dark room or curing area should be provided.
Selling Garlic For Profit
Garlic farming involves figuring out how to go about the process, choice of a suitable land which also includes preparation and planting as well as harvesting.
However, your product will need to be sold to the market. As such, you must find or source the right buyers.
The quality of your product will determine its selling price. Hence the need to ensure you adopt best practices in growing your crop. The bigger the better. Softneck varieties have the greatest demand. This is why they are most common in supermarkets.
You might also want to join garlic farmer associations for tips on how best to improve upon existing farming practices.