Garlic problem: stinky dark rot, small white worms

elisa_z5August 30, 2013

I posted this on the veggie forum because it looked very quiet here, but was assured that questions do get answered here -- and I need an expert! Thanks in advance, for any information or help.

I've been growing garlic for 7 years and it has always been pristine with no problems at all.

this year the plants looked great, the harvest looked fine (just a little later than usual), but I'm finding that some of the heads have some cloves that have turned black and are stinky and rotten, and some cloves have white wormy larvae in them (at least I think they're larvae). Some heads are just fine, and I can't tell until I open them up whether it will be a good head or a head with some problems.

I have been all over the internet to try to find information about what these two things are, and I'm only getting more confused. Is it Nematodes?

I did plant the onion bed next to the garlic bed -- against my better judgement, but it was the only bed close to ready when I had limited time to get the onions in.

Can I compost the garlic stems or would this spread the problem?
Can I plant my own garlic again next year (as I've always done)?
Does soaking in hot water or alcohol before planting help prevent the spread of this problem?

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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

Nematodes are very small. If you can actually see these critters, and this is just a guess, but you might compare to onion maggot, Hylemya antiqua. More common on onions and shallots...


    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 12:34PM
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Thank you , horster. Yes, I can see them, so I will read up on onion maggots.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 10:21PM
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If it makes you feel better, I have never seen so many onion root maggots in garlic -- usually it's more like two heads out of a hundred, or none. This year two out of five heads of small hardnecks were ruined. These grew near one another. It is possible that there was a "lens" of damage when flies laid eggs in a small area. Some silverskins in another bed had zero damage. Any opionions on whether it was location or variety that protected the silverskins?

In the link below, you can click to enlarge the photo with the root maggots in it.

Here is a link that might be useful: photo of onion root maggots on garlic

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 7:05AM
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Planatus -- thank you for the photo (who else but a gardener would be thrilled to receive a photo entitled "onion root maggots on garlic" ? :) )

Yes, that's the culprit. And I guess it was a bad year for them. At least it's not a disease that requires sterilization of tools, etc.

Thanks for the info!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 10:42PM
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I had these maggots in many of my garlic cloves this year. They were harvested from a plot that hadn't been tilled as deeply as I would have liked. Winter heaved the cloves half way out of the ground. It seems like having the top part of the clove exposed was what caused the flies to find the garlic and lay their eggs on it. Any other opinions on that?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 10:59AM
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Mine were planted nice and deep, but the prolonged wetness probably caused some rotting tissues that attracted the flies.

This year's crop went into a bed that hasn't had onions in five years. Still, I planted more softnecks and fewer hardnecks because the hardnecks had more trouble last year with root maggots and fusarium. We dried the cloves from heads with issues, but I still had plenty of clean ones for planting, and more that are holding up well in storage.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 12:04PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

It's true it's not a disease.

But because those critters are in the soil, you must rotate all alliums out of the area for 3 or 4 years.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 1:34PM
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