Growing garlic in Western Australia

Page last updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2016 - 10:05am

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Garlic bulbs

Garlic is imported into Australia throughout the year, but mainly from May to November. The chief source of imports is China, which produces about 75% of the world's garlic and in 2010/11 supplied 75% of Australia’s total imports of 10 650 tonnes.

Although Chinese bulbs are only of moderate quality, they are in demand because of low price. Garlic is also imported out-of-season from Mexico, Argentina, USA, Spain and Chile.

The main areas of Australian garlic production are South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. A significant amount is processed. Promotion and health benefits have increased consumer interest in buying Australian garlic.

Consignments of garlic to Market City, Canning Vale, Western Australia from all sources increased from 415 tonnes in 1998 to 2 274 tonnes in 2010. With storage, locally produced Western Australian garlic is available from November to May.

It is only produced in small quantities for several reasons including:

  • 0.6 to 1.0 tonne of cloves is needed to plant each hectare. For a new grower, obtaining good supplies of the best varieties for planting may be difficult and expensive.
  • Established growers must retain 15% of the crop for planting material.
  • Garlic imports from all countries are allowed entry by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service. Growers may find it difficult to compete with cheap imports.
  • Growing garlic is labour intensive, particularly harvesting and trimming. It is a long-term crop, taking six to eight months from planting to harvest.
  • Garlic is not high yielding. While marketable yields up to 20 tonnes per hectare are possible, good commercial yields are closer to 10t/ha and yields of less than 5t/ha are not unusual.
  • There are few processing outlets in Western Australia for out of grade bulbs.