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Or maybe, much to your surprise, a whole bed will turn yellow and fall over, seemingly overnight.
It can happen in the field, where they emerge but then turn yellow and die, but it particularly occurs after harvest during storage as a result of rough handling. They just love it when the weather is around 55 degrees, which it is for most of our spring and summer.It can reach epidemic proportions under the right conditions.Look for spots on the leaves that become covered with a grayish furry mold.Growth is stunted; younger plants may die; outer scales of bulbs become water-soaked; necks sometimes shrivel and turn black. Leaf Blight (): This fungus survives on dead plants in the soil and attacks garlic leaves in warm, wet weather. It is called “neck rot” for good reason – the stem turns black and slimy and easily pulls from the bulb.It can be quite common in maritime climates, and usually affects the softnecks more than the hardnecks.By the time you notice something is wrong, it can be too late. However, paying attention, listening, and a little preventative care can go a long way to avoiding problems down the line.
Garlic speaks to us through its leaves – so if we want to understand garlic, we can divine knowledge of its well-being or malaise (and correspondingly, our upcoming fortune or otherwise) through leaf interpretation. For example, the standard advice on when to harvest garlic is to look at the leaves.
Be careful not to plant infected bulbs or you will get it again. One little infected clove in a bowl of popped cloves ready to plant can infect the whole bunch. The pathogen survives as oospores for many years in the soil.
If you see mold on a bulb, don’t think you can plant the “clean” cloves. When the weather turns hot, the plant can regain the upper hand, but if it turns cool and damp again, the Destructor will return.
Or maybe it’s just tired and hungry, in which case a little foliar or root-zone feeding might bring it back around.
Then again, perhaps something more nefarious is lurking beneath the surface, and further investigations are warranted. We’ve had one of the coolest, wettest spring & summers on record – conditions that would make any fungus happy – so don’t be surprised if some of your beloved garlic plants fall prey.
Watch for sclerotia, those black clumps that form between cloves.