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How can I control garlic bloat?

Answer: This year, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in bloat nematode in garlic. I’ve been paying particular attention to it as some of my own garlic is infected, and unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done to control it in the short-term, either conventionally or organically. In addition, there is a lot of misinformation being offered about control measures. This includes the idea of using a hot water treatment to sterilize seed, which more recent research has concluded does not have much of an impact on controlling infected seed. Chemical treatments are not much of an option either, as fungicides that were originally used for garlic bloat are no longer registered (in the U.S.). I have talked with some organic farmers who soak seed in Oxidate?, which is used to control several types of bacteria and diseases, prior to planting; however, I have not seen this product registered or tested anywhere for garlic bloat.Thus, we’re left with cultural practices to overcome garlic bloat. First and foremost, it is important to buy only certified seed for planting. If you are using your own seed stock, make sure that you don’t plant infected cloves. In addition, culling plants at first sign of infection is critical in the field. Just as important is a crop rotation with a recommended four years between crops in the Allium family. Planting biofumigant cover crops, such as mustards, can be beneficial as part of a crop rotation.Bulb damage can be mistaken for Fusarium basal plate rot, so you may want to have your garlic tested. This being said, the nematode can spread easily in infested soil, on equipment, and in infected seed and plant debris. Keeping weed populations down and all tools and equipment clean can help in combating garlic bloat. The Garlic Seed Foundation has issued an alert for garlic bloat and is referring farmers to the Cornell University Fact Sheet Bloat and Nematode on Garlic.The ATTRA publication Garlic: Organic Production addresses most aspects of organic garlic production, including seed sources, organic fertility management, pest management and harvesting and storage. Marketing and economic considerations, including enterprise budgets for organic garlic production, are also addressed in this publication. A resource and reference section follows the publication.