Mildew resistant kale varieties for PNW?

plantslayer(8)September 18, 2013

Hello everyone,

This year I grew kale, a LOT of kale. I moved into a house and did not have time to plant summer crops, so I planted a huge 150 sq ft section of my raised bed area with just kale. I have two varieties- the "Smooth leaf kale" variety found on burpee seed racks in every supermarket, and "dinosaur" aka "Italian" kale.

THe smooth leaf kale is an incredibly fast grower and heavy producer. It's very tasty too, with large leaves that are like a more tender version of collards. The problem is, mildew is getting all over them now. I just picked them down a lot and threw out at least a few pounds worth of heavily infested leaves, then sprayed organic fungicide on the remaining leavs, but I sort of think it's useless to fight the fungus like this. There is something about this variety that makes it very susceptible to mildew, maybe just the broad shape and the tenderness of the leaves. The dinosaur kale and the smooth-leaf kale are planted amongst one another, but the dinosaur kale seems to be barely affected.

Rather than just growing all dinosaur kale (it is nice, but not as impressive a producer), I was wondering if someone can recommend a variety of tender kale that is resistant to fungus. I have heard about Sutherland kale being very hardy, but it looks kind of small and low the ground, so I worry that it also will have fungus issues.

This is the second year in a row that this smooth-leaf kale has had this issue for me- It just explodes all through late summer then gets coated in downy or powdery mildew when the climate gets cooler and wetter. It is of fun to go to your garden every three days or so and take out about $50 (Whole Foods price) worth of fresh kale, but I've learned my lesson about this stuff... it just doesn't seem to be adapted to this area.

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I usually don't see much mildew on kale here so you can probably plant most locally prevalent kinds and not have such a problem in future. Russian kale, for instance, which a friend thinks is the cat's pajamas - it even reseeds to the extent that I don't think he has replanted it for years. The name of the "dinosaur" variety is 'Laciniato'. It is supposed to have the best flavor - AFTER it has been frosted.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 3:32AM
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When my Red Russian gets mildew I assume it is because I don't water it enough in July & August and my mulch from June is used up.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 6:45PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes on outdoor plants in general mildew is a summer feature because it likes generally dry conditions with enough dampness on leaves for the spores to germinate - some kinds even produce spores with their own water packet so they can germinate on dry leaves. Here on the Pacific Slope conditions can be quite good for it as the summer drought combines with fogs later in the season. More diligent watering can inhibit it by both washing the leaves and keeping host plants fully hydrated.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 11:25PM
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The thing is, I don't think I was remiss in watering the plants, they were growing like crazy. Also, the mildew showed up after it started raining. This kind of kale at least grows very rapidly in seasons where there is sunlight and rain alternating every few hours, but not long after these conditions arrive (the frequent light rains) then mildew spots begin.

Since I ripped most of the mildew affected out, will it stop proliferating when the weather cools down? Are the plants doomed?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 7:16PM
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I just cut it & feed to our chickens. The regrowth doesn't get it. I wait until frost for us to start eating it again.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 2:13PM
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I grew 5 different varieties of kale this year in home garden and 4-H garden (kids like kale a lot) and find red Russian to do the least well and be the least favorite. The best, sweetest, and strongest grower was White Russian the next was Red Ursa. I too feed the rank, dry lower leaves to the chickens and new growth at this time of the year is great.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 6:09PM
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When you cut it down, how do you cut it exactly?

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 10:42PM
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