Removing scapes

hortster(6a, southcentral KS)May 1, 2012

Been growing hardneck garlic for about 5 years. Trying to develop some large seed garlic for a new area. I have begun removing the emerging scapes as soon as the spathe shows. Previously I have always removed the scapes when they have become prominent, spathe swelling, scape looping and obvious (and tasty when used in cusine), a technique which seems to me could be sapping the bulb by allowing more terminal growth. The thought is: the more growth of the scape, the more sapping?

Will this early removal increase bulb size? Anyone with experience on this? Appreciate!

hortster

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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

It's a good question that could use some detailed studying. The problem is how do you know how much bigger it could have gotten?

If you remove the scape when it's still small, the scape stem continues to grow quite a bit. If you wait till the scape makes a curve (or loop if it's a porcelain), then when broken off it does not continue to grow.

16 years ago, while learning to grow garlic, the farmer I worked for told me to wait till they curl or else we would have to go back and break it a second time.

Personally I never notice a diminish in bulb size as long as it's broken off before it gets tough.

-Mark

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 12:10AM
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planatus(6)

Actually, there have been a couple of detailed studies that showed that harvesting garlic scapes at full curl had little effect on bulb size provided the plants are not under stress.

When I've cut the scapes too early, I've often seen the stalk continue to grow anyway. I think the important thing is to not let them go too far. No double loops allowed.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 10:52AM
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wcthomas

There is a lot of controversy among garlic growers about when to, or indeed if, remove scapes. There is good evidence that leaving the scapes until they are straight and woody will make for smaller bulbs, but may increase storage life. Removing them too early, however, will cause the scapes to continue to grow, thus defeating the purpose. The consensus seems to be that removing the scape after the first curl makes for larger bulbs than removing them later, but there are variations among varieties and growing conditions. This is discussed in detail in Ron Engeland's book "Growing Great Garlic"

I remove mine when they are about 18" long and still succulent, and of course they are great eating.

TomNJ

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 11:15AM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

Thanks to all for your input. This is the first time that I have tried cutting them off so early - like I said, up to this season I have done so after the first loop formed. After reading your comments I took a look and sure enough they are still growing with the spathe removed. Lesson learned. Thanks again.
hortster

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 2:39PM
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Garylane(6)

Looks like i just live a little south of you in Blackwell, I allways remove my scapes when they are just beginning to curl. my garlic is very early this year because of the mild winter. I will be harvesting 2 early kinds in about a week compared to the end of may normaly. goodluck with your garlic.
Gary

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 9:08PM
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scooter70(6 SW OH)

The 1st yr growing garlic I cut off scapes for larger bulb production ( did read something - out of Michigan, i believe - that bulb size can increase 15-45% by removing the scape) but, they were All discarded...anyone done that without realizing the true delicacy that they are ??? This is my third yr growing and I grow 3 varities: 2 stiffnecks & 1 soft.
I have been cutting scapes on the Lorenz Italian since the 8th and the German Porcelain should be ready to start harvesting by the end of this week.
Last night I read about pulling, not cutting the scapes. ... ... ... WOW! What a difference...
I do let the scape curl around once before harvesting & I wonder if pulling the scape will affect future growth at all. Anyone have any experience with this? I still have a few hundred & would rather pull them, even as labor intensive as it is.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 11:14AM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

TomNJ, thanks for mentioning Engeland's "Growing Great Garlic." I bought the book and have learned immensely, although only halfway through the book. It answers A BUNCH of my questions. Thanx again!
hortster

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:11PM
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wcthomas

You are most welcome Hortster. Another great garlic book is "The Complete Book of Garlic" by Ted Jordan Meredith. In addition to being very informative, the book is full of absolutely beautiful photographs.

TomNJ

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 8:54AM
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