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Garlic Bloat Nematodes

Garlic bloat nematodes have become a serious pest issue for garlic growers in the northeastern U.S. Once infected, fields must endure a rigorous eradication program before any alliums should be grown there again. The problem affects all alliums, but is especially an issue for growers of garlic seed stock. We at Fedco Bulbs take this pest infestation seriously because we really don't want to chance infecting your precious gardening or farming ground.

Fedco Bulbs requires our growers and suppliers to test each lot of garlic and walking onions for garlic bloat nematode using reputable independent labs. Each lot must test negative before we receive delivery and must arrive with documentation.

The pest, Ditylenchus dipsaci, causes stunted and/or misshapen plants and results in poor quality bulbs. Only when an infected plant has run out of resources for this pest to munch on will the garlic bloat nematode try to move to other plants. The primary method for moving is via neighboring plants that touch each other, whether still in the ground, after harvest in the curing stage, on display at market or later in storage.

Pull and destroy any infected plants. Do not add them to any compost pile as it is possible that the pest may later infect the ground where that compost is spread. If allowed to grow to maturity, infected plants may get large enough for table stock, but in no circumstance should they be sold unwittingly (or not!) as seed stock.

Fact sheets on Garlic Bloat Nematodes (Ditylenchus dipsaci) are available at:
• The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service - Bloat Nematode in Maine Garlic
• Cornell University - Bloat Nematode Problem on Garlic (pdf)
• The Garlic Foundation - Bloat Nematode Alert

If you need or want to have your own garlic tested for garlic bloat nematodes, below are links to two testing labs:
• University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service testing form (pdf)
• Cornell University testing for garlic bloat nematodes.

If you have any questions about Fedco Bulbs' nematode testing requirement, please contact me:
Kip Penney, Bulbs Division Coordinator at Fedco

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Fedco Seeds, PO Box 520, Waterville, ME 04903
Main Line (207) 426-9900

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