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White Rot Update

Crystal Stewart-Courtens, 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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Processing Beets and Carrots Advisory Meeting

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December 13, 2021

All are invited to attend and discuss the 2021 growing season for each crop. Join us online or in-person; pre-registration required. Cornell researchers will be on-hand to present an update on their research funded by the NYS Vegetable Research Association & Council. 2.0 DEC credits will be offered in categories 10, 1a, and 23.

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Processing Peas, Snap Beans, and Sweet Corn Advisory Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

December 13, 2021

All are invited to attend and discuss the 2021 growing season for each crop. Join us online or in-person; pre-registration required. Cornell researchers will be on-hand to present an update on their research funded by the NYS Vegetable Research Association & Council. 1.75 DEC credits will be offered in categories 10, 1a, and 23.

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Increasing the skillset of your most valuable employees paves the way for long-term retention of the employees most committed to the ultimate success of your business. Promoting the development of leadership skills among key employees is an investment in a business owner's most valuable resource. This concept is particularly important in multi-lingual workspaces, where English and Spanish speakers convene to grown and harvest New York State's finest produce. In the Futuro Financiero course, students grow as agricultural professionals, while the farm benefits from workplace values that promote mutual respect and deeper cultural understanding.

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