How To Remove Garlic Scapes
Why Removing Scapes Is Important
When growing hardneck garlics, scape removal is generally recommended unless you are wanting to let them develop a bulbil capsule. Scape removal encourages larger bulbs because energy is conserved and diverted to the bulb rather than the flowering structure.
Softnecks do not generally produce scapes, however, in really cold climates some plants may form scapes. If they grow above the plant they can be removed, however, most will form incomplete scapes with bulbils in the stem that cannot be removed.
Scapes are wonderful to eat and can be cooked by themselves or in recipes that call for garlic. Most growers harvest them to eat or sell. They can be stored for up to a month in the refrigerator.
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When To Cut
There is some debate as to what is the best stage of plant growth that scapes should be removed and harvested. They can be cut as early as when the structure first appears or as late as when the scape has uncoiled, elongated and the capsule begins to swell.
Early removal is said to divert the maximum amount of energy to the bulb while late removal is believed to maximize bulb quality and storage ability. Generally, most growers choose somewhere in the middle and remove the scapes once they have formed one or two loops, but before they bein to uncoil and the capsules begin to swell.
How to Remove
Scapes can be snapped off by hand or cut with sharp shears just above the last leaves. Some growers also use knives, however, this takes a bit of skill and to prevent cutting yourself. Some people's skin is sensitive to the juices that are produced when cutting the scapes and therefore wear gloves.
How We Do It
On our farm, we try to do removal sometime between the scapes just starting to curl and the scapes having one loop. We find that this allows us enough time to do all the work before the capsules form. Removing tens of thousands of scapes is a lot of work and takes us a couple weeks to fully complete.
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