NEW garlic varieties from Taiwan may prove the key to extending its production window in Queensland.
Research scientists Dr Stephen Harper and Zara Hall, from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries' Gatton Research Centre, have recently imported 28 lines of garlic into Australia.
The material has been sourced from their collaborating partner, The World Vegetable Centre in Taiwan, because in south- east Queensland there is only one variety growers plant on a commercial scale.
"It's fine, it's a good yielding variety, but it could be better, particularly its visual quality, and also it's all harvested in September and we would like to extend the Queensland garlic production window," Ms Hall said.
"Out of the Taiwan collection we have selected lines suited to our latitude as growth of garlic is sensitive to day length."
Ms Hall explained that Dr Harper had trialled some lines of garlic from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries previously, but very few of them were able to grow in Queensland because they were not suited to our latitude.
"Apart from the one that we normally grow, called Glenlarge, there are maybe three or four others that are suited to growing at our latitude," she said.
"At the moment we are growing all 28 lines at both Gatton and Stanthorpe.
"Because the imported material is from the northern hemisphere the garlic is currently out of season for planting in Queensland, where garlic is normally planted in March and harvested in September.
"The garlic has been planted in pots under controlled conditions, with modified temperature and day length, with the aim of propagating the material and moving it to our local time of planting. The material in Stanthorpe is being propagated in glasshouse conditions.
"As we are growing it out of season and it has been imported from the northern hemisphere we didn't know how it would grow, but it is growing very well.
"Ultimately, we want to extend the production window for Queensland garlic growers by identifying a suite of several varieties with slightly different day length adaptation.
"Another major problem with garlic is that it doesn't produce true seed; it's like banana and sweet potato, where you are continually propagating from a piece of vegetative material.
"So there is virus building up all the time and if you are not careful you will end up with something that is limited in its yield potential because of the virus infections. DAF is also working on producing garlic planting material free of viruses.
"If you can remove all viruses, and our colleagues have shown there's up to 10 viruses in garlic, you can potentially double yield to about 20 tonne per ha."
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