Garlic Harvest Timing

I’ve seen quite a few people searching or posting for “when to harvest garlic.” I thought maybe we could post some info here for people. I am no expert but we grow about 150-200 heads of garlic a year in southern Michigan. We start by planting cloves from our best garlic heads from the previous year. The cloves are planted in October or November and we just harvested today, late July. We look for leaves starting to brown and lower leaves completely dead. The main thing is to pull them before the cloves start to separate.


MIGardener harvested his a couple of weeks ago and posted it on social media. He also trimmed the tops and bottoms and went against all the old recommendations of drying… which i did also.

So much easier and i think my new way of harvesting and drying.

My neighbor is making me some garlic powder now… on the freshly harvested garlic.

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The photos below show how the plant looks when it is ready to harvest. A little definition in the bulbs, dead lower leaves. Last year, I harvested late and had a bunch of bulbs where the cloves were already pulling away from the bulb. It wasn’t a big deal, we just used those bulbs first. When dried outside and then stored in a cool basement, they can last a year. We are still using ours from last year. The last photo shows a bulb with a little too much definition to the cloves. If you pull up a fresh garlic and see this much definition in the cloves, it is definitely time to harvest.


I’ll have to check his post out. This is why the forum is great, there are many ways of doing most things and you can learn them all here.


here it is…

@Sparty Nice size garlic. Mine was further advanced when I pulled it, June 27 in 7a, but the bulbs where not as large as I would have liked. Yours look nice. Do you know the variety?

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Not much useful info from MIGarderner unless someone is a complete novice.

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My first week of July harvest. I will replant Chesnok Red, Georgian Crystal, Montana Zemo and will add Spanish Roja. May try a new one also…


cool :sunglasses:

i must be a complete novice because before he posted about cutting the tops off and washing them before drying i was doing it the old way and trying to dry those long messy tops along with dealing with all the dirt and cleaning afterwards like the OP seems to be doing as well.

All the old posts on this forum from experts show drying the same way also.

I like doing it the novice way now… so much easier by doing the work on the front end vs the back end.

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I’ll try cutting the tops on some next year and see how it compares in regard to bulb drying. With all the humid weather here drying is always a slow process.

I watched migardener and he has some useful info but some is wrong. He said properly dried garlic will last 3-5 months. I find we have great garlic for about 8-10 months, but often can use it for up to 12 months. The last few months, you start getting some brown cloves and sprouting cloves. Also, his cloves seem a bit small. I have a no till organic bed using no fertilizer and a few inches of leaf compost every year. Subsoil is pure clay.


I got my garlic from a family member years ago, I believe it is “Music” and “Italian Red.” I think the most helpful thing is to plant your largest cloves every year. I don’t cut the tops because I like to braid and hang the garlic. It looks nice and makes nice gifts. I don’t mind the extra work.


Storage time is closely related to storage temperature. I also get 8 to 10 months


He may have been referring to softnecks… not defending him by any means and i do agree that he is great for novices… I think its great what he does by inspiring folks to grow things… i think we need more people like him that simplify and make it easier for the home gardeners.

I think it should be noted that not all homeowners have cool/dry/dark storage conditions also. And that step is after the warm dry drying process… so i gotta kinda go with maybe a lower storage time for folks that just keep them in their pantry.

I planted last year in late October and we had an Indian Summer… this coming year im going to wait until first frost. I had way too much top growth in November last year. I lost a whole variety due to that.

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I would be interested if you can report on whether or not cutting the tops & washing up front results in a difference in bulb longevity compared to the traditional method of curing.

I always leave 3 garlic scapes per bed uncut: both ends of the bed and the middle. When the umbel capsule (the end of the scape where small bulbies develop) is close to split the cover, it is time to dig out garlic. Usually separation of the cloves happen in the same time as split of the umbel capsule .


I think storage time also depends on whether the garlic got too cold. Evidently vernalization accelerates sprouting, so I’m careful to get mine out of the unheated garage and into our basement before frost.


Storage time depends on variety/“class” of garlic as well, but the only types of garlic I have had issues storing longer than 5 months are the Turbans and Asiatics, which are usually starting to sprout as October comes around and planting time for my area is approaching. They are ready to harvest as early as late May here, so I don’t mind the short storage time.

The main varieties of garlic I grow are Artichokes like Red Toch and Sicilian, and they are usually ready mid to late June and store well into April, though we so much garlic we’re often using it up before that point.

Even if you only grow Turban garlics, 3 months seems rather short.

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I put ours in my basement as soon as it dries. The basement is in the 50s (Fahrenheit ) during the winter and 60s during summer. I’ll show a pic of garlic I picked last year and how it looks now.

12 months after harvest:


You dont see this much but i have always wondered the difference in garlic powder vs fresh garlic. Unless you are after the benefits of hydrogen sulfide…there isnt much of a reason to not use garlic powder…which should store for years…not months.

I am commiting more than half of my harvest to making powder. My neighbor makes it for me and when you open the lid its intoxicating how strong it is vs the store bought. Taste is beyond amazing.

She uses an old Nesco which does a perfect job.


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