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Which garlic cultivars should I choose for a cold climate?

Answer: Garlic is a cool-season crop grown in most regions of the United States. Hard-neck cultivars like Rocambole and Porcelain usually do better in colder climates. The cloves are larger and easier to peel. A few of these variety names are ‘Spanish Roja,’ ‘German Red,’ ‘Carpathian,’ and ‘Music.’

Soft-neck garlic cultivars (Silverskin or Artichoke) are not recommended for northern climates. Numerous strains exist, having been selected over the years by the various companies that produce them for dehydration, or by growers producing them for the fresh market. Mechanized farms grow and develop cultivars of soft-neck garlic because the planting process can be mechanized. Since they don’t produce a scape (flower stalk), the cloves can be planted upside down. Topsetting (hard-neck) garlic cloves must be set upright. There are fewer cultivars of soft-neck garlic, compared to topsetting. The varieties ‘California Early’ and ‘California Late’ comprise 90 percent of the soft-neck types grown commercially.

You’ll benefit from reviewing the ATTRA publication Garlic: Organic Production. It addresses most aspects of organic garlic production, including seed sources, organic fertility management, pest management, and harvesting and storage. Marketing and economic considerations, including enterprise budgets for organic garlic production, are also addressed.