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White Rot Update

Crystal Stewart, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

June 22, 2016

Earlier in June I sent a garlic sample to the diagnostic lab hoping that I was wrong. The sample was covered in small black sclerotia, the size of poppy seeds, and white fungal hyphae crept up the stem. The results, unfortunately, matched the field diagnosis: White Rot. Within a couple days additional calls came from up and down the Hudson Valley as well as one in Western NY with similar suspicions. These samples have also gone to the lab for verification, but it looks like the latest pest to move back into the state is this nasty fungus.

White Rot, Sclerotinia cepivorum, decimated the onion industry in New York in the 1930's before being eradicated through careful management. More recently, in 2003, it infected 10,000 acres of garlic in California, leading to the abandonment of some garlic fields and adoption of strict containment rules. White rot has been confirmed in Northeastern states over the last decade as well, with New York being one of the last to discover the disease.
The primary reason that White Rot is such a concern is because the sclerotia, or reproductive structures, can remain dormant in the soil for up to 40 years, attacking any allium crop planted into the soil under favorable conditions. This spring was ideal for infection due to the period of cool, moist weather we had. Optimal temperature for infection is 60-65 degrees F, but infection can occur anywhere from 50-75 degrees F.
Once garlic has white rot, it generally declines rapidly. Leaves will yellow and the plant will wilt, not unlike a severe fusarium infection. However, unlike with fusarium, white rot infected bulbs are covered in black sclerotia and white fungus. To add to the confusion, another disease CAN look similar. Botrytis also causes black sclerotia and white fungal growth. However, Botrytis sclerotia are quite large, often larger than a pencil eraser.
So, what do we do now? We're still working on long-term management strategies, but the most important steps to take now are vigilance when culling (look at the plants you are pulling for symptoms like you see in this article, and if they are present, call us to take a sample and have the disease verified) and, if you see anything suspicious, reduction of movement of inoculum. The main ways diseases get moved around are by dumping culls (compost, field edges, etc) and my moving soil on equipment. Throw away your culls, and wash equipment that may have come in contact with suspicious garlic or the soil it is growing in. Everything from cultivation equipment to harvest bins should be cleaned. 
We will keep learning about this disease and will keep sending out information, particularly to help you make decisions about what to sell and buy. For now, remember that the west coast has learned to manage the disease, and we will too. -Crystal Stewart, ENYCHP


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Upcoming Events

Women in Agriculture Discussion Group: Apples and Vegetables

September 30, 2019
Monday, 6:00 - 7:30 PM
Lockport, NY

Each monthly Women in Ag discussion group meeting will feature an established, innovative Farm-her leading the group on a tour of her operation and sharing her expertise on business management and production. Several guest speakers, as well as Cornell Vegetable Program staff, will be brought in to act as resource people for developing solutions to common production challenges.

The September 30 meeting will cover season extension, managing CSAs and tarping led by Liz Tee, CCE Lake Ontario Fruit Program, and Elizabeth Buck, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program. The meeting will be hosted by Bree Bacon (McCollum Orchards & Gardens). Bree will share her experience in social media marketing and passive farm income.
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Announcements

NY Crop Insurance Availability by County & Crops

Apiculture, Dairy-RP, LGM, Nursery, PRF and WFRP policies are available throughout the entire state. A table has been developed showing RMA crop insurance availability by county and crop in New York State.

If a crop is not covered in your county, you may still be eligible for a written agreement for that crop. Please contact an insurance agent to see if this is an option for you.

More information about crop insurance is available through Cornell's New York Crop Insurance Education Program.

Cornell Commercial Vegetable Guidelines Available

The 2019 Cornell Integrated Crop and Pest Management Guidelines for Commercial Vegetable Production are now available!

Written by Cornell University specialists, this publication is designed to offer producers, seed and chemical dealers, and crop consultants practical information on growing and managing vegetable crops in New York State. Topics include general culture, nutrient management, transplant production, postharvest handling, organic production, and managing common vegetable crop pest concerns. A preview of the Vegetable Guidelines can be seen online.

Highlighted changes in the 2019 Vegetable Guidelines include:
  • Updated pesticide options for economically important vegetable crop pests.
  • New pests: beet armyworm in beets; cabbage looper and tarnished plant bug in lettuce and endive; allium leafminer in onions; and Cladosporium, Cercospora, and Stemphylium leaf spots in spinach.
Cornell Crop and Pest Management Guidelines are available as a print copy ($41), online-only access ($41), or a package combining print and online access ($57.50). Shipping charges will be added to your order. Cornell Guidelines can be obtained through many local Cornell Cooperative Extension offices, or from The Cornell Store at Cornell University or call (844) 688-7620.

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