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Posted by Rosemoor Garden on 26 Jun 2009 at 12:30 PM

Earlier this month I noticed rust appearing on the garlic crop and the chives in the border nearby. No sign of damage on the onions. 


There was so much rust the soil was covered with orange dust.

The normal time to harvest garlic is when the tops start to die down around July to August time but at Rosemoor rust strikes in most years towards the end of June- early July  and cuts short the development of the crop. So this year is earlier then normal. Last year it didn’t appear until the 2nd July but in 2007 it appeared on the 29th May, 2006 on 27th June.

The disease will also attack leeks and onions and is worse in warm humid weather and where there is an overwintering host such as our chive bed, which at Rosemoor is just nearby. 


There seems to be some confusion about the identity of the rust fungus attacking alliums but it is generally thought that it is a distinct species that attacks leeks

Dusty reddish-orange slit-like pustules develop on the leaves, sheaths and stems during the summer.

In severe attacks the leaves may turn prematurely yellow and die and the bulb reduced in size as a result.

This year we grew the following varieties;

Early Purple Wight
Chesnock Wight
Solent Wight
Purple Moldovan
Lautrec Wight
Iberian Wight
Albigensian Wight
Provance Wight

These were all planted 22nd October 2008

Early Purple was the least affected by the rust. Chesnock Wight and Mediterranean Wight did not establish well and gave a poor yield. Solent Wight had the biggest bulbs although they had only just started to form the individual cloves. This may have been caused by lifting prematurely because of the rust.

We will harvest the crop now and dry off in the tunnels.


Despite the rust damage we normally get a good crop of garlic cloves, which stores well through the winter. In fact we are still using some of last year’s crop now.

Garry Preston, Fruit and Veg Gardener


MAL said:

The rust on our Solent Wight garlic started in early June and got much worse in the humid weather in Mid June.  We have lifted them now - is there anything we can do about the orange dust that is on the surface of the soil?  Or just add sulphate of potash and follow crop rotation?

on 16 Jul 2009 at 02:54 PM