By Kara Lynn Dunn

Christy Hoepting Cornell nematologist George S. Abawi, left, with extension associate Robert Hadad checking garlic in the field.

Cornell nematologist George S. Abawi, left, with extension associate Robert Hadad checking garlic in the field.

Cornell nematologist George S. Abawi, Ph.D. ’70, is on a mission to help save one of New York’s burgeoning agricultural commodities: garlic.

Once filling just 11 acres of land in 1992, garlic production has grown exponentially, to 306 acres in 2007, up from 153 acres in 1997. New York is now the fifth largest garlic producing state in the nation. But an outbreak of a new crop pest is threatening the $24.5 million industry.

First spotted by Cornell Cooperative Extension vegetable specialist Christy Hoepting in Orleans County in June 2010, the microscopic stem and bulb (bloat) nematode (Ditylenchus dipsaci) has now been identified in garlic seed and soil samples from 17 New York counties.

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