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9 tips for growing garlic as a business

Garlic is a profitable spice
By Carlo P. Mallo |

With a new Bureau of Customs commissioner in the next few weeks, we can only hope that there will be less smuggled spices like garlic proliferating in our market. The native garlic is by far more flavorful than its imported counterparts.

If you are thinking of joining the band wagon and starting your garlic plantation, has listed down 11 tips from the Department of Agriculture that you must remember.

1. Soil and Climatic Requirements
Garlic can be grown in different types of soil. However, sandy, silt and clay loam are recommended for commercial production. The soil should be fertile, rich in organic matter, well-drained, and capable of holding adequate moisture during the growing period.

Garlic grows favorably in areas with Type I climate, which is characterized by a wet season that usually occurs from May to October and a dry season from November to April. Garlic does not grow well in areas with excessive rainfall.

2. Land preparation
The two types of land preparation for garlic production are with tillage and without tillage or zero tillage:

a. With tillage
This method of land preparation for garlic is similar to that for corn, soybean, and other upland crops. The field is plowed and harrowed twice or more at seven days interval or less. A tractor-mounted rotavator can also be used.

b. Without tillage
This method of land preparation is usually practiced in the lowland rice fields after the harvest of palay. Rice straw and weeds are cut closed to the ground. If the soil is too wet, the field is allowed to dry until the desired moisture level is attained. Canals are usually constructed around the paddies to ensure no standing water after heavy rain or irrigation.

3. Selection of Planting Materials
Fully-matured and well-developed bulbs of medium to-large cloves should be selected as planting materials. These should be free from diseases and mechanical damage. A hectare of land will require about 400-700 kg of seeds depending on the size of the bulbs and the distance of planting.

4. Clove or Seed Preparation
The planting material is prepared first by separating the clove from one another. The cloves from the outer parts of the bulb are the best planting material. Large bulbs contain 10-14 cloves. When there is a shortage of planting materials, the inner cloves can be used also but these should be separated from the outer cloves. The planting materials are then soaked in an insecticide-fungicide solution for at least two hours to get rid of seed-borne pests and diseases. The cloves are air-dried before planting.

5. Time of Planting
Planting for garlic varies in different regions. In rainfed upland areas particularly in Batangas, planting is usually done during the early part of September. In the Ilocos Region and other lowland areas, planting is from October to November. December planting tends to produce smaller bulbs especially in the latter parts of the month due to infestation of thrips and mites, and the bulbs are sometimes affected by early rain.

6. Distance of Planting
The distance of planting varies from 15 centimeters (cm) x 15 cm to 20 cm x 10 cm to 25 cm. Planting is done using dibble or pointed stick to insert two-thirds of the length of the clove vertically into the soil or about 2 cm to 3 cm deep.

7. Mulching
Mulch can be applied before or after planting. Mulch is evenly laid on the field with a thickness of 3-5 cm. Rice straw is commonly used as mulching material in the Philippines. Other mulching materials that can also be used are hulls, saw dust, grasses, and polyethylene or plastic sheet. Mulch controls soil moisture as well as the growth of weeds.

8. Fertilization
Before planting, the soil should be analyzed to determine the type and amount of fertilizer needed to be applied. Handy soil-test kits are available in the different local offices of the Department of Agriculture throughout the country. This simple and easy-to-operate kit measures soil fertility and pH value.

Application of organic fertilizer is found to be more effective in garlic production. Organic fertilizer does not only provide macro and micro nutrients but also some beneficial microorganisms. It also improves the physical, chemical, and biological conditions of the soil. Further, it has no known harmful effect on the ecology as well as on the crops.

9. Irrigation
In preparing for planting, if soil moisture is not sufficient, it is necessary to irrigate the field a day or two days earlier. In case the soil becomes too wet after irrigating, the field should be allowed to dry until the desired moisture level is attained. This condition is best exemplified when footprints are deep enough. Garlic produces an average of 6.5 roots per plant. In clay loam soil, the roots dig down as deep as 59 cm.


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