Management of Allium White Rot

2011 Annual Report for FNE11-721

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2011: $8,301.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Amy LeBlanc
Whitehill Farm

Management of Allium White Rot


Goals and Information

The overall goal is to use biostimulation, using on-farm inputs, to reduce the presence of Allium White Rot in the raised beds we use for farming. The project will need to be continued for 4 years, with a concluding lab assessment of the remaining levels of pathogen. At that time we’ll be able to determine if this method can reduce the presence of the Allium White Rot pathogen over time and make it possible to plant alliums in that soil.

There are no significant changes in the area being farmed – with the only exception being new beds with new soil (new location as well) to allow planting garlic as a cash crop. We are also not allowing free range for our small flock of chickens as they were probably a disease vector.

The roles of my cooperators

All the cooperators/mentors of the project were involved in the initial planning of the project. I have been talking with them all from time to time to let them know we are on track.

At the Maine Agricultural Trade Show on January 14th I shared a talk about the spread of garlic diseases in Maine with Steve Johnson, one of the mentors for this project.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Project preparation and first year activity

This first year the work was literally ground work, creating/building the sections of the beds to use for application of the bio stimulants for last year and the next three years.

We installed dividers in the beds, took soil samples from each area, and then applied the treatments. Each bed was then planted to regular crops – anything other than alliums.

The season was basically successful for those crops, and in the fall we did our usual “put the garden to bed for the winter” routines: removing plant debris, adding compost and amendments, and applying mulch.

Sanitation Protocols

The most important part of the project, in addition to the actual applications of the treatments, was developing sanitary protocols and consistently respecting those routines. Tools, hands, shoes, buckets, etc., are all cleaned before moving from bed to bed. We’re using an Oxidate solution as a cleaning agent, and the resulting “dirty” water is dumped into a deep hole dug well below tilling depth. We’ll have a new dump each year, filling in the old one each time.

We have also built new compost bins and have destroyed the previous bins and their contents as the compost was certainly contaminated. No plant debris or kitchen trimmings with possible soil contact is going into the new compost.


Results and Economic Impacts

Actual results will not be available until post-dormancy pathogen assessment tests can be done in April/May 2012. At that time we will make a comparison of the numbers to see if there has been an impact in the first year. We have to wait till spring for access to the soil – and the winter assures dormancy of the pathogen.

We will need to build 5-6 new beds each year, for five years, for garlic plantings. Each bed costs about $50 to install, counting time, materials, and soil. As several beds need repairs each year, we are retiring some and the new ones are replacing them. The new beds are making it possible to have a small cash crop of garlic every year.

The one unanticipated expense was for removal of the old compost bins and the contents. The compost was removed and is currently fill under a new building. The wooden pallets were burned and the stakes thoroughly cleaned. There is enough cushion in our budget to cover this expense.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Outcomes, What Remains to be Done

In order to complete the full intention of this study there is a lot remaining to be done. Our current grant will cover soil tests/pathogen assessment this spring and the spring of 2013 as well as the time and materials needed to apply the biostimulation treatments for the second year. I will apply for additional SARE grant assistance for the soil tests and treatments for two additional seasons. This will eventually allow for some assessment of potential management of the Allium White Rot pathogen.

We will continue to make results available, as they are generated, at events like the MOFGA Farmer to Farmer conference in Maine, Maine Open Farm Day, The Maine Agricultural Trade Show, and NOFA events in Massachusetts. We will also continue to provide handouts when our farm is open for tours.


David Fuller
Agricultural and Non-Timber Forest Products Professional
U. Maine Cooperative Extension
138 Pleasant Street
Farmington, ME 04938
Office Phone: 2077784650
Dr. Steven Johnson
Crops Specialist, Aroostook
University of Maine
Aroostook County Extension Office
Presque Isle, ME 04769
Office Phone: 2077643361
Dr. Eric Sideman
Organic Crop Specialist
P.O. Box 170
294 Crosby Brook Road
Unity, ME 04988
Office Phone: 6032696201
Dr. Fred Crowe
Emeritus Professor of Botany & Plant Pathology
Oregon State University
114 Pie Plant Hollow
Dayton, WA 99328
Office Phone: 5414206633