Hardneck vs. Softneck Garlic
Climate dictates what kind of garlic will do best in a particular area. Hardneck garlic evolved in areas with cold winters. It needs a period of chilling (called vernalization) to do well. Gardeners in warmer climates who want to grow hardnecks must use the refrigerator to provide that cold period prior to planting. Softnecks, on the other hand, tolerate heat and will do well in warm climates.
There may be as many as 600 different varieties of garlic. However, not all can be found easily. Readily available varieties include:
- Gregory’s China Rose
- Lorz Italian
- Nootka Rose
- Silver White
- Siskiyou Purple
- Spanish Roja
- Western Rose
Garlic by Zone
Gardeners in the coldest zones – Zone 1 through Zone 6 – can grow either hardneck or softneck garlic. In Zones 7 through 10, gardeners may do better with fall-planted softnecks. Gardeners in Zones 11 to 13 should stick with fall-planted softnecks. Hardnecks should be planted in fall, just before the first frost. Softnecks can be planted in spring or fall, although snowy or very wet winters can make spring planting difficult.
Garlic and Latitude
Like onions, garlic is sensitive to day-length. The plant begins to bulb when days are 13 to 14 hours long. This sensitivity is more pronounced in certain varieties. In the US, states farther north of of the 35th parallel have longer summer days and those south of the parallel are considered short-day areas. There is a middle range where any kind of garlic will usually do well.
World Garlic Production
China is the biggest commercial garlic producer in the world. China grew over 25 millions tons of garlic in 2014. South Korea is the second largest producer, followed by India, the United States, Egypt and Spain. About three-quarters of this garlic is dehydrated and used in prepared foods. The rest is available fresh in food markets or used as seed stock.
US Garlic Production
In the United States, California is tops, producing 90 percent of the garlic grown in the US. The town of Gilroy, California, claims the title of “Garlic Capital of the World,” as it is not only a growing area but also has major processing and marketing activities. The town holds an annual non-profit fund-raising event called the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Oregon and Nevada are the other major growers in the US.