Development of disease management, fertility, and weed control best practices for northeast garlic production

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2012: $50,853.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Grant Recipient: Cornell Cooperative Extension
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Crystal Stewart-Courtens
Cornell Cooperative Extension

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: garlic


  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Pest Management: chemical control, cultivation, cultural control, flame, mulches - killed, physical control, row covers (for pests)
  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Proposal abstract:

    Garlic is a $20 million industry in New York, and it represents an important and growing niche crop across the Northeast. As the numbers of garlic growers and acreage in garlic have increased, the number of diseases associated with this once trouble-free crop have also increased. Nearly 25% of growers surveyed indicated they have lost 30% or more of their garlic crop at least once in the last five years. To reduce these losses and increase productivity, we will develop best practices for garlic in the Northeast through a series of research trials. A post-harvest trial will compare treatments by examining marketable yield and disease incidence following heated curing, cutting garlic tops and roots prior to curing, and washing immediately following harvesting. A weed control trial will compare both organic and conventional options to determine which weed controls are the most efficient, effective, and feasible for organic and conventional growers. A fertility trial will compare available recommendations from the Northeast to determine optimal timing and rates of fertilizers. These trials will be replicated from the Albany, NY area down to Long Island, providing a diversity of soils,environmental conditions, and hardiness zones which will be applicable throughout the Northeast. Based on this research and the following outreach to growers, we anticipate that 100 acres of garlic will realize a yield increase of 10%, or 80,000 lbs by optimizing fertility and reducing weed pressure. The dollar value of this increase will be $640,000. We anticipate reducing curing time by 50% on 100 acres, from 10-14 days down to 5-10 days. This reduction in curing time will translate into a disease reduction of 25% versus open-air curing, for an economic benefit of $427,000.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Learning and Skill milestones:

    1) 1000 farmers receive 3 articles detailing research findings in the Veg Edge (450 subscribers) and The Garlic
    Press (600 subscribers in the Northeast). Winter ‘12-’13.
    2) 250 farmers attend winter meetings and garlic schools to learn about fertility, weed control, and post-harvest
    care. 120 growers fill out surveys detailing their issues and responding to research information. Winters ‘12 and
    ’13- these growers receive email survey in 2014 (item 5)
    3) 100 growers receive research trial information at the Saugerties Garlic Festival through CCE and the Garlic
    Seed Foundation. 65 complete surveys (same as winter meeting survey). Sept. ‘12 Sept ’13 and Sept ’14
    4) 700 growers purchase Cornell Guidelines with new garlic chapter. 150 additional growers access garlic chapter
    online. First draft complete Sept ’12, second draft with all results complete Sept ’13. Effectiveness of this new tool
    assessed in Sept. ‘14
    5) 30 growers receive more in-depth help implementing changes based on research findings from CCE educators
    or the Garlic Seed Foundation. The progress of these growers is tracked extensively by educators. Ongoing
    through 10/2014
    6) 1000 growers receive online survey link through newsletters. 100 farmers fill out survey indicating changes
    they have made based on research trial information and education. Sept. ‘14

    Performance targets:
    Fertility and weed control: 50 garlic growers representing 100 acres of garlic will increase yields by 10% or more by optimizing their fertility programs based on soil tests and our recommendations and/or by reducing weed competition using a new technique. This increase in yield will increase production on these 100 acres by 80,000 pounds, which will increase gross income by $640,000, or an average of $12,800 per grower (based on initial production of 8,000lb/A).

    Post-harvest best practices: 50 garlic growers representing 100 acres of garlic will reduce curing time by 50%, from an average of 10-14 days to 5-10 days. Reducing curing time reduces incidence of diseases including Botrytis alli (neck rot), Pennicillium sp. (blue mold), and surface molds. It also slows the spread of Fusarium proliferatum (Fusarium bulb rot)(12). During years with poor natural curing conditions, we expect growers with reduced pre-curing leaf and root mass and/or warm storage areas to experience reductions of at least 25% in disease incidence over storage in open-air facilities. Based on our results, this would result in an economic benefit of at least $427,400, or an average of $8,548 per grower.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.