The Secret Behind Knowing Exactly When To Harvest Hardneck Garlic

Timing is pivotal to harvesting garlic, perhaps more than most other Allium plants, including the one we are all familiar with – the onion. That is the reason we have crafted this article for you, dedicating it solely to the intricacies and nuances of knowing when to harvest hardneck garlic at just the right time.

In this quest, our focus as you might have noted is on the hardneck garlic variant. Are things very different in case of softneck or other variants of garlic? Actually no; at the same time, hardneck varieties are among the most sought after kinds of garlic, for reasons we will describe later in the article.

Accordingly, it only made sense that we placed special emphasis on aspects related to harvesting hardneck garlic in particular.


when to harvest hardneck garlic

Now, the whole crux of this post is on the basis of the fact that garlic, whether hardneck or softneck, grows underground. If it instead grew over ground, then we would not be surmising so much over the right time to harvest the crop.

After all, in that scenario, the ripeness of the plant would be visible to all and sundry. But in this case, with the plant being underground, we have to rely on other cues as to when to harvest hardneck garlic. It is these cues which we will explore in reasonable detail in the sections below.

At the same time, do bear in mind the fact that these signs are more confusing in nature in case of garlic, even when we compare with its close Allium cousin, the onion. Therefore, the whole realm of harvesting garlic is rather fascinating, a journey that requires careful traversing.

What Signs do the Leaves give?

All too often, a lot of our readers rely on cues given by leaves of underground plants.

Mind you, this is also quite a tricky situation – particularly in case of garlic. We explain below:

  • In the first instance, let us imagine a scenario where you wait till the leaves are really brown. In this situation, you risk overripe garlic bulbs whose pods will begin to separate from each other in an untimely fashion.
  • On the other hand, if you ignore the signs given by leaves and actually harvest too soon, then you risk inhibiting the overall potential of garlic bulbs to reach their complete size. Moreover, when you harvest in such circumstances, you also risk limiting the overall shelf life of such garlic when it is stored.

Having described both the scenarios as mentioned above, it is strongly recommended that you harvest your hardneck garlic when most of the leaves at the bottom of the plant have turned brown but some of the ones at the top (say 5 to 6) are still green.

Now, this is a phenomenon which depends on climate as well. Therefore, do consider the climate in your area, before deciding upon when to pick garlic.

Difference between harvesting hardneck and softneck garlic

The primary difference between hardneck and softneck garlic in the context of harvesting is the additional flexibility offered by the former. Specifically, if we take conditions in some part of the US where it does tend to get rather cold and frosty such as the North, hardneck garlic grows better and is also easier to harvest.

Additionally, there is a sign so to say in case of hardneck garlic for when to harvest it. This comes in the form of a stalk which resembles a scape. Typically you will find this blossoming around June – this may differ depending on your own location.

Now, the stalk is indicative of about a month or so left prior to garlic bulbs maturing. Therefore, this occurrence helps you plan your garlic harvest.

Caution while Harvesting

Any mention of garlic harvesting or information about when to pick garlic would be incomplete if we do not consider the precautions to take while harvesting your crop.

Don’t worry; there is nothing very complicated. At the same time, it is useful to have some basic aspects in mind while going through the process:

  • Garlic bulbs should be pulled out gently, especially in comparison to the way you would in case of onions. Otherwise, you risk damaging your harvest.
  • Further, you should ideally harvest with the stems on. This way, your garlic will store a lot better, and for much longer.
  • Harvested garlic really does not do well in the sun. Therefore, once you have harvested your crop, it is strongly advised that you remove your crop from direct exposure to the sun right away. In doing so, you will preserve your garlic a lot better, ensuring a longer shelf life as well as better taste.
  • We recommend that you start harvesting with a smaller sample of your entire crop. Assuming you planted them together at the same time, they would be ripe at the same time too. By starting with a small sample, you get a good idea of what lies ahead for you, with regard to your entire crop.

We wholeheartedly vouch for the following video from The University of Maine that offers an excellent, well-rounded perspective on harvesting and drying hardneck garlic in the best way possible:

Additional Precautions

In this section we enlist additional precautions which are aimed at the overall betterment of your garlic crops.

  • The duration for which you leave garlic in the ground does make a difference. In particular, you need to make sure that you do not cross the ideal threshold for which garlic remains in the ground. If you end up doing that then your garlic harvest might end up with separated bulbs. This weakens your crop considerably, leading to a significant reduction in shelf life and making it far more prone to catching diseases.
  • Another important precaution pertains to the extent to which you water your garlic crop. Remember that excess water will only end up causing harm rather than doing any good, especially in the form of unsightly mold or stains on the exterior of your garlic bulbs.

Garlic Curing

Now that we have looked at vital aspects related to harvesting hardneck (and other) garlic variants, it would be useful at this juncture to garner some inputs on garlic curing as well.

Some basic facets to keep in mind:

  • Having harvested your garlic, it is recommended that you cure your garlic plants – completely as-is with the leaves attached for 7 days. You should take adequate precaution on your choice of the place where you store garlic, which should be both dry and warm.
  • Once these 7days pass, you can cut off most of the plant from the top, barring roughly 5 inches from the bottom. If you find long roots hanging, you can clip it. Further, if there is soil leftover, you can simply brush it off. Once you have gone through these steps, you can replace your garlic back to its curing spot.
  • Now let your garlic cure for another week in the open. Once this phase has passed, it is time to rid your garlic of the stem that is still leftover as well as their roots which by now would have dried up.
  • The final curing stage for another week would be a slightly cooler place indoors.
  • With these three stages over the course of three weeks complete, your curing would be done.

Between hardneck and softneck garlic, you will find the stages to be more or less the same.

Obtaining Garlic Seeds for Planting

when to harvest hardneck garlic

Obtaining garlic seeds for planting is not a very arduous task. There are quality resources both online and offline for you to easily obtain preferred garlic seeds of your choice.

If we take hardneck garlic – the garlic variant that has been the focus of our article, then you can consider online resources for Siberian Hardneck Garlic Bulbs and Gourmet Chesnok Red Hardneck Garlic Bulbs respectively.

Online options for softneck garlic are not too far away or limited either. From among available choices, Fresh California Softneck Garlic Bulbs would make good choices.


This article provided detailed insight into the entire process of harvesting garlic. In particular, you would have obtained invaluable information on diverse aspects of the process such that questions like “When to harvest hardneck garlic?” would no longer be on your mind.

Yet, is there anything critical that you feel we missed? Or something important that you feel we could have provided more information on?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below – we constantly strive to offer nothing less than the best information repositories to our readers!

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Tom Rico

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