Botrytis in the soil can harm garlic crops

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Ed Buyarksi reports a garlic plant infected with botrytis. (Photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)


From now until mid-August, the garlic plants will be ready to harvest. But master gardener Ed Buyarski says gardeners should watch out for botrytis, a fungal disease that can spread through crops.

“It’s already mostly in the ground, assuming we’ve been gardening for a while – or even wild soil.” he said.

Buyarski pulled a garlic plant that showed signs of botrytis rot and pointed to pinkish-red streaks running down from the base of the stem to the bulb.

“It’s not a good thing at this time of year,” he said.

A bulb of garlic with the red streaks indicative of a botrytis infection on the skin. (Photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

Buyarski said each leaf on the stem of the garlic plant corresponds to a layer of protective skin on the bulb.

“If they rot, they don’t protect it,” he said.

He removed layers of red-streaked skin from the stem to reveal the bulb and its cloves. These are healthy and can be eaten fresh, but they are too small to store for drying.

A bulb of garlic with the skins infected with botrytis peeled off. (Photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

Botrytis is very common and attacks plants when conditions are right, such as too much humidity or not enough air circulation. Buyarski said good drainage and air circulation in flower beds and greenhouses will help reduce the fungus, and gardeners should set aside affected plants to avoid further contamination.

“When I harvest the garlic in a month, in six weeks, I’ll sort out all the ones I’m suspicious of, if I see that red streak going down the bulb,” he said.

Email Sheli Delaney if you have any questions for Garden Talk.

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