Garlic Growing 202 - Considerations for Starting A Commercial Garlic Farm
Are you considering growing garlic on a commercial scale? Drawing on the experiences of the members of the Garlic Growers Association of Ontario, here are a few very important questions to consider.
Marketing – What is your plan for selling your crop, including wholesale, retail distribution? Many options include farm gate retail, farmers markets, garlic festivals, processing and value added products, grocers and Ontario Food Terminal.
Sub markets – Have you considered secondary markets for small and damaged bulbs? Having a market for your small and slightly damaged bulbs can help increase your profits.
Soil Crop Rotation – Alliums should have a 3-5 year rotation. What is your plan to grow other non-alliums in the 3-5 year period between growing garlic in a spot? Virus's and disease need to be properly managed, and a good crop rotation is a great start
Disease and Pest Management – What is your plan for inspecting your crop and harvest for bulb and stem nematode, leek moth, yellow aster and other pest and diseases? For example, do you have a regimen in place, such as hot water treatment, for pre-empting the possibility of bulb and stem nematode? Are you considering to buy clean seed?
Seed source – What is your seed source, keeping in mind the importance of using seed that is free from disease and pest? Purchasing large quantities of seed takes a great deal of planing and research, be pro-active to insure your crop is off to the best start possible.
Mechanization & Labour – What is your method for planting, weeding, harvesting, etc. Garlic is a very labor intensive crop, there are many labor saving tools available.
Processing - Will You provide your own value added services, and products with your garlic? or source out processors of Ontario garlic?
Curing – Do you have facilities for proper curing (2-3 weeks) of garlic? Some environments require for air ventilation and curing systems. Will you hang your garlic, place it into produce bins or bulk store your crop?
Method – Will you grow your garlic using organic, conventional methods, and factored in this method when thinking about your market and type of mechanization?