Garlic Diseases Have Spread Throughout Maine
In Maine, two viruses that have the potential to wipe out garlic farms are on the rise. Several garlic farms in the state have been affected by stem nematode and allium white rot. The stem nematode is a tiny parasite that deposits its eggs in the seeds and stems of garlic plants. The worms feed on the garlic after hatching, destroying the plant and turning it inedible.
White rot of the allium is more dangerous. Allium white rot is a fungal infection that damages seed stock and has the ability to devastate entire crops for decades. While the diseased garlic plants can still be eaten, the illness is particularly damaging to farmers since it leaves no seeds to sustain a fresh crop.
Both pathogens appear to have come from outside of the state. Both the nematode and white rot are common concerns in garlic fields in New York, California, and Canada. Some scientists suspect they were disseminated by out-of-state stock.
Both diseases have already caused damage to the state's garlic harvests. To keep the fungus from spreading, a local organic farm had to destroy its garlic production and replace beds and soil. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding research on possible remedies.
While the government's research may eventually help to stop the spread of these diseases, garlic farmers in Maine are struggling in the meantime. The price of garlic has increased drastically, and some farmers are worried that they may have to give up their farms entirely.
One way that farmers do to keep their businesses afloat is by seeking out agricultural finance loans. These loans can give farmers the money they need to buy new seed stock, pay for soil replacement, and make other necessary changes.
So far, the state of Maine has not been able to find a way to stop the spread of these diseases. However, with the help of agricultural finance, farmers can continue to grow garlic in the state and provide people with this valuable crop.