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Image: Pereslavtseva Katerina/

Known by its scientific name Allium sativum, garlic is a staple in almost every cuisine on the planet. A member of the onion family, which also includes leeks and shallots, garlic has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes dating back thousands of years.

Garlic Seasonal Availability Chart

Types & Varieties
Within the species, there are two subspecies: ophioscorodon or “hard-necked” garlic, and sativum or “soft-necked” garlic. Almost all supermarket varieties of garlic are soft-necked and include two types: silverskin and artichoke. Silverskin is the most common, though artichoke has a milder flavor with less cloves. Soft-necked garlic has the longest shelf life and grows well in a variety of conditions.

Hard-necked garlic is grown in climates with very cold winters, produces a flowered stalk, has fewer and larger cloves, and a moderate shelf life.

There are three main types: rocambole, porcelain, and purple stripe. Other unique types that produce a flower are Asiatic, Creole, and Turban.


Garlic grows best in well-drained soil with a high pH and concentration of organic matter. Soil must be tilled prior to planting to provide a loose growing bed for bulb development.

Cloves are planted an inch deep in the fall or early spring, with the pointed side up. Garlic is sometimes sprayed with sprout inhibitors during preharvest to help control development and lengthen the storage period.

Pests & Diseases
Leafminers feed on plant sap and larvae tunnel and hollow out bulbs. Bulb mites appear in clusters on damaged areas, stunt growth, and contribute to rot in stored garlic.

Penicillium rot is characterized by lightweight bulbs and soft or spongy cloves that decay into grey powder. Basal rot attacks plants already weakened by other diseases or insects, while white rot causes white, fluffy fungal growth and small, dark sclerotia. Downy mildew can survive for years in the soil, kills younger plants, and stunts the growth of older plants.

Storage & Packaging
Garlic is often harvested by hand, especially for sales to the fresh market. Bulbs should be dug up with roots and shoots attached, tied in groups, and dried in a well-ventilated room. Temperatures between 30 and 32°F and relative humidity of 60 and 70% is optimal. Freezing injury can occur at temperatures below 30°F.

References: Cornell University, Iowa State University Extension, University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Minnesota Extension.


Generally speaking, the percentage of defects shown on a timely government inspection certificate should not exceed the percentage of allowable defects, provided: (1) transportation conditions were normal; (2) the USDA or CFIA inspection was timely; and (3) the entire lot was inspected.

U.S. Grade Standards Days Since Shipment % of Defects Allowed Optimum Transit Temp. (°F)
10-2 5

There are no good arrival guidelines for garlic specific to Canada; U.S. guidelines apply.

References: DRC, PACA, USDA.


• Poorly sheathed garlic is scored as a defect if bulbs are not fairly well enclosed and over 10% of the surface is exposed
• Sprouting is scored as a defect when any sprout is visible at the tip of any clove, even though it is not visible through the sheath
• Waxy breakdown progresses in storage to a deep yellow or amber color and can be translucent and sticky or waxy to the touch; unless in advanced stages, the bulb must be cut in half to detect its presence—score as a defect, as damage, when more than 10% of cloves are affected.

Source: Tom Yawman, International Produce Training,

Garlic Retail Pricing:
Per Pound

This information is for your personal, noncommercial use only.