Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Fungal Disease to watch for.

Fusarium Basal Plate Rot of Onion and Garlic

Michael Celetti, Plant Pathologist – Horticulture Program Lead, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Guelph
The pathogen, Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cepae, is not new to Ontario. It is a persistent soil-borne organism that can also contaminate onion sets and transplants or cloves of garlic used for seed. In fact it is most likely introduced into non-contaminated fields on infested garlic cloves or onion sets. The disease tends to occur more frequently in garlic than in onions and is more often a problem on Spanish onions varieties than on yellow cooking onion varieties.
Figure 1. Orange to salmon coloured spore masses develop around the rotted basal plate of onions infected with F. oxysporum f.sp. cepae.
Symptoms of this disease are often seen as early senescence of the infected plants. The tips of leaves of infected plants turn yellow then brown as symptoms progresses downward towards the bulb. Occasionally a reddish discolouration may appear on bulb sheathes of severely infected garlic plants early in the season. During very hot and dry conditions infected plants wilt and bulbs appear watery and brown. Often the roots rot off of the basal plate (Figure 1). Severely infected plants are easily removed from the soil when pulled, leaving the rotted basal plate and roots behind. On onions, a white mould is sometimes observed growing on the basal plate and frequently orange to salmon coloured spore masses appear around the rotted basal plate (Figure 1). Bulbs that appear to be free of symptoms at harvest but are infected can decay in storage, however, there is no evidence that the disease spreads from bulb to bulb during storage.
Figure 2. Symptoms of Fusarium basal plate rot (left) in garlic look very similar to damage caused by bulb and stem nematode (right).
The pathogen infects when soils become very warm. Interestingly, even in heavily contaminated fields the disease rarely occurs when soil temperatures are below 15oC. However as the soil temperatures warms up and approach 25-28oC together with hot conditions like what was experienced in many regions of Ontario during 2012, the spores of the pathogen in soil germinate, infect developing bulbs and the disease becomes more prevalent and severe. Because this disease thrives under high soil temperatures this diseases usually shows up in mid to late summer.
The pathogen can infect onion or garlic bulbs directly at any stage of plant growth (even healthy plants!); however, a higher incidence of infected plants tends to occur when roots, bulbs or the basal plate are wounded by insects, nematodes or other pathogens. In garlic, the disease looks a lot like and is often associated with bulb and stem nematode injury (Figure 2) where as in onions it is sometimes associated with onion maggot damage.
The disease is managed effectively by crop rotation with non-host crops for 4 years and through planting vigorously growing onion and garlic varieties that are resistant to this disease.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Still time to order your planting and eating garlic!

We are having the most wonderful autumn ever!  Here in Central Hasting County, Ontario, we have had night temperatures no lower than +5 degrees Celsius!  We are still harvesting our fall raspberries, tomatoes and pole beans!  I have greens growing in the cold frames and the grass is still green and growing as ever!

With a fall like this we will be able to plant garlic well into the month of October.   So get those orders in soon before the ground freezes up and there are no more garlic.  


Monday, August 31, 2015

Order Now!

The time has finally come! Time to order your seed and eating garlic.

For those of you who live near Verona, you can come out the 9th annual Verona Lions Garlic Festival this Saturday between 9 am and 2 pm for all things garlicky including the large selection from Railway Creek farm.

Please check the website Railway Creek Farms – Garlic to view the list of what is available and the prices. Please order only what is available and follow all instructions on how to order.

The garlic grew well giving some large bulbs but most of the bulbs are in the medium size. It was a successful harvest with just myself, my mum (who is 80) and 3 high school helpers spending over 245 hours pulling, peeling off the dirty leaves, bundling and hanging the garlic. From Mid august I have been working the vegetable gardens and continuing with the cleaning and packaging of the garlic on my own. I also do all the paper work as well as the marketing. So when you purchase garlic from Railway Creek Farm, you are supporting a very small family farm operation and the livelihood of a family.

I would like to thank you in advance for your interest and continued support of all things small. Elly

Monday, August 3, 2015

Garlic Festival Time

Well it's done! All the garlic is harvested and in the barn drying beautifully. This years' harvest was wonderful with many bulbs in medium to large size range. The weather has been great for drying with hardly any rain days on the harvest days, which means that the garlic goes into the barn dry. Most of the varieties listed on the web page are available for eating or planting. As in all previous years, I monitor for fusarium and virus problems. Rainy wet summers acerbate the fungal disease, and the virus issue is spread by sucking insect that inadvertently share virus from plant to plant. Aside from that, I am very happy with the crop.

So now its time for upcoming garlic festivals and food shows. You can view all the shows where Railway Creek Farm garlic will be available, including the first one coming up this Saturday at the Carp Fair Grounds. http://carpgarlicfestival.ca . This is our first official show of the season and the most busiest one to prepare for right after harvest.

I hope that many of you have a chance to check out any or all of these events this summer and fall.

Happy Garlic shopping!