2023 Garlic and Shallot Season

Difficult Weather means Difficult Growing Conditions

When asked to describe the conditions leading up to the 2023 harvest Robert Harrison Jones of Garlico Marlborough summed it up with this word, “Difficult … and that’s with a capital D”.  

That’s not to say that it’s less of a crop.  It’s just taken more to get it to your table.

“Alan and I have been growing garlic since 2003 and operating as Garlico since 2013 and this year (2023) is the latest harvest that we’ve experienced, it’s March and we are still getting garlic out of the ground. Normally we would be digging shallots and preparing for that harvest.  We’ve fitted in the onion seed hand-harvest between the days of rain.”

During 2022the rains and flooding in Marlborough split the planting season and the unseasonable summer has now taken its toll during harvest as well.

Robert is philosophical about it.  Nature does what it does. Garlic is in the ground for 180-200 days and at any stage weather conditions can take the harvest away.  Here calls that back in the day his dad, Peter Jones, and cousin, Tony Tripe (both men started the business as Piquant Garlic) also experienced a season or two of late harvests due to weather conditions. In that era the garlic was dug by machine but collected by hand.  

“It’s going to be a quick turn-around but we are good with a challenge.  We have a great group of experienced hands as our harvest crew, our shed staff are brilliant and once inter-island freighting lines get properly sorted we’ll be all hands to the pump.”    

Every year brings its own challenges, the variables potentially affecting any crop are many. The more difficulties there are the greater the costs are.

“We can blame lots of things that contribute towards rising prices, and along the way everyone needs to make a dollar … land leasers, power companies, fuel companies, chemical and fertilizer companies, freighting companies, middlemen, markets, packaging companies, compliance auditors … and not forgetting the primary producers with staff, machinery and operational costs.”

Costs associated with commercial crops are different from small-scale growers and the demands are different too.

With over 40 years of horticultural experience under his belt, Robert says there’s one thing he knows for sure … difficult weather means difficult growing conditions.