FORT COLLINS, COConsumer interest in new and diverse types of garlic is on the rise. Fueled by factors including the growth of the "local foods" movement, interest in world cuisines, and widespread reports touting its numerous health benefits, demand for high-quality, locally grown garlic is increasing throughout the U.S.
While most grocery stores in carry the familiar white, "softneck" garlic (which is most often imported), varieties of "hardneck" garlic in colorful hues of purple, magenta, pink, and white are becoming more available at local vegetable stands and through direct-marketing programs. The results of a recent study of 10 garlic cultivars can help farmers identify niche regional markets and offer new, in-demand garlic varieties to consumers.
Hundreds of garlic (Allium sativum L.) cultivars are available from seed companies, retailers, and germplasm collections. Increasingly, growers purchase bulbs from nonlocal sources and are often disappointed by unpredictable yields. Garlic bulbs resulting from seed stock purchased in other regions may not display the characteristicssuch as bulb size, shape, and colorfeatured in the catalogs.
Gayle M. Volk of the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Fort Collins, and David Stern of the Garlic Seed Foundation authored a study designed to determine which garlic traits are stable and which traits vary depending on where the garlic is grown. According to the study published in a recent issue of HortScience and funded primarily by the Northeast Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education program, prior research has shown that traits such as clove number, clove skin coloration, and topset number are representative of cultivar type across growth locations, whereas "phenotypic" traits such as bulb wrapper color, bulb size, and bulb elemental composition are specific to sites.
|Contact: Michael W. Neff|
American Society for Horticultural Science