Garlic is mainly a rabi crop harvested during March and is required throughout the year for consumption. Hence, garlic bulbs should be stored properly to meet the supply year round. Well cured (dried neck and outer skins), clean bulbs firm to the touch can be stored for 5-6 months at ambient temperature in ventilated storage structures, but with low relative humidity (< 70%). Bulbs should be graded before storage and 20-25 plants tied in bundles along with tops. The tops should be divided in three segments and interwoven tightly. Such bundles are kept in upright position in shade for curing for 15 days and hang them in dry and well-ventilated area or use forced air to dry bulbs. If the large quantity of bulbs needs to be stored, these should be arranged in 4 feet diameter circle and to a height of 3 feet. The heap diameter should be reduced gradually from 4 feet bottom to 3 feet at top while arranging the bulbs. There should be a gap between two heaps for good ventilation.

High humidity in the stores  favours mould growth and rooting. Mould growth can also be a problem if the bulbs have not been well cured before storing. During storage, bulbs will eventually become soft, spongy and shrivelled due to water loss. Excessive exposure of bulbs to direct sunlight should be avoided as it causes sloughing due to excessive shrinkage.

For long-term storage, garlic can be best stored in cold store at temperatures -1°C to 0°C with low relative humidity (60-70%). Application of excess nitrogen and  irrigation 15-20 days before harvesting favours sprouting of bulbs in the field. Early planting of garlic also causes sprouting. This can be prevented by optimum supply of nitrogen and stopping irrigation about 15-20 days before planting. Irradiation with 2-6 krad of cobalt 60 gamma rays has been recommended for controlling sprouting in storage. The irradiation given to bulbs within 8 weeks of harvesting (before sprout initiation) can inhibit sprouting effectively, reduce weight loss and prolong storage life for about one year. Doses higher than 10 Kr reduce diallyl disulfide content which gives typical garlic flavour.

For seed garlic, pre-harvest spraying with 0.1% carbendazim and disinfection of stores before storage reduce post-harvest losses particularly decay loss.



Garlic bulbs in storage