Mon, Mar 25, 2024 5:00 AM

Covid gives a boost to the garlic market




Alan Jones of Garlico maintains that Covid has driven people to consuming healthier food. While the ability of garlic to entirely fend off the virus is a matter of high conjecture, MG Fresh Produce Group, the company responsible for marketing garlic from Garlico back up Alan’s opinion on the increased demand for healthier foods.

Ginger and carrots have also seen a surge in demand. Among the claims of the health benefits of garlic are an aid to digestion, the lowering of cholesterol, hypertension, acne, asthma, coughs and colds. Garlico has recently completed the harvest of 34ha of garlic.

The crop is traditionally planted on the shortest day in June and requires good quality soil and irrigation throughout the growing season. Because of the usual warm dry summers Marlborough is ideal for growing the crop.

All of Garlico’s production is consumed domestically. Harvest is now highly mechanised with the crop lifted by machine, transferred into large wooden boxes and brought back to the factory for drying and processing. Gone are the days when school children could make a dollar by topping and tailing the bulbs in the paddock and filling buckets. Because of our Free Trade agreement with China, cheap garlic is still being imported.

Alan is quick to point out that the constraints placed on growers in this country of keeping spray records and maintaining withholding periods does not apply to the imported product. The history of garlic goes back to 4000 BC in Mesopotamia where it was described on a stone tablet with a recipe for lamb stew.

Jeremy Oswald of Osgrow Seeds inspected an onion seed crop due to be harvested at Garlico. The seed is triangular and quite delicate, so great care must be taken when threshing the seed heads. These are cut off manually and dried before being threshed.

Italian ryegrass seed has also been recently harvested by Alan’s company. This was grown in the Waihopai Valley and the seed will go through a cleaning process before sale. Jeremy said other crops such as ryecorn, barley, wheat, sunflowers, peas and popcorn were also being grown in the area.

“Because of the dry growing conditions and the early harvest, Marlborough is an ideal place to grow seed crops. Newly harvested crops from the district are already being supplied to farmers around the country,” he says.

Nelson App is owned by Top South Media. a locally owned media company.