To cut the scape or not to cut the scape

Prachi(6b (NJ))September 29, 2012

Hello. I am planting garlic for the first time (German Red Toch). I put them in a week ago and a few are sending up leaves already... so I am guessing I am likely to get scapes soon...

Do I cut the scapes?

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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

I think you have plenty of time to figure out if you want to cut the scapes or not. The won't come out till April-May.

Below is a link to help you learn more about growing garlic.

(And, yes, you should cut the scapes when they happen.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Gourmet Garlic

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 11:17PM
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stevelau1911

If you leave the scapes on, the bulbs should be a bit smaller however it will produce bulbils which can be planted that fall, and they can turn into decent sized bulbs in 2 years which varies depending on how big the bulbils are on the scapes.

If you are trying to increase your planting material, then I would suggest leaving the scapes on and live with slightly smaller bulbs, but if you already have plenty of bulbs, then it should be fine to cut them off.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 5:21AM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Based on my experience if you leave the scapes on I think that "a bit smaller" is a drastic understatement. I'd say 'much smaller" is more accurate. My med-large hardnecks average 2 1/2" across. If I miss breaking off a scape the heads are closer to 1".

I've been curious as to how effective it is to save and replant bulbils to increase stock.
I started 2 years ago with only one head of a very special variety I wanted to grow out. I planted the 8-9 cloves and last year harvested 8-9 large heads. I again replanted every one, and this year have a 20# box of jumbo heads, enough to plant again and have plenty to sell next year.

I'm not sure it's worth saving bulbils to plant, if it decreases head size so much.
I'd like to hear more.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 8:28PM
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stevelau1911

Wow, that's a huge difference. It seems like my species typically only lose around 20% in weight if the scape is left on. The varies from species to species. I guess it probably depends on how big the seed heads are.

As far as saving bulbils, and replanting them to increase stock, it is many times more effective as long as you make sure the seeds are mature, you dry them out, and plant them at the appropiate time. Some varieties can produce as many as 100 bulbils per plant while the bulb itself can be re-planted however with smaller cloves. I find that it only takes 2 years of growth to get to full sized bulbs as long as they get very favorable treatment until then.

With the species that I am already producing a ton of, I usually allow 5-10% of them to produce scapes so that I have a few hundred of them to plant in my bulbil beds.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:37PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Very cool. I've only tried one time before to plant the bulbils and lost the little plants in the weeds. That deterred me from trying again.
I'll have to give is a shot again next year and keep the plants in a special bed to give them extra attention.

Thanks for the details.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:45PM
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Prachi(6b (NJ))

stevelau1911- what varieties of garlic are you growing?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:38AM
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stevelau1911

I'm growing artichoke softneck, and for the hardnecks, I have german red, magic, german white, chesnok red, and maybe a few others.

About 60% of the 2000 garlic cloves are the artichoke softneck since I have so many of them, and still haven't built up a stock of hardnecks yet.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 1:01AM
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