Curly Top Spinach Disease: Learn About Beet Curly Top Virus In Spinach

Curly Top Spinach Disease: Learn About Beet Curly Top Virus In Spinach

By: Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

In springtime we put so much work into creating our ideal garden beds…weeding, tilling, soil amendments, etc. This can be back breaking, but we are driven by the vision we have of a full heathy garden and a bountiful harvest. When this vision gets destroyed by fungal or viral plant diseases, it can feel devastating. One such devastating viral disease is spinach beat curly top. Continue reading for information on beet curly top virus in spinach.

Spinach Beet Curly Top Info

Curly top spinach disease is a Curtovirus that affects many plants besides just spinach. Certain herbs and even specific weeds are all susceptible to spinach beet curly top infections, as are:

This viral infection is spread from plant to plant by the beet leafhopper. When leafhoppers feed on infected plants, they get the virus on their mouthparts and spread it to the next plant they feed on.

Curly top spinach disease occurs in hot, arid regions. It is most prevalent in the western half of the United States. Arizona, specifically, has had many serious beet and spinach crop failures due to beet curly top virus. Symptoms of this disease appear within 7-14 days of infection. These symptoms include chlorotic or pale foliage, puckered, stunted, curled or distorted foliage. Infected leaves may also develop purple veining. As the disease progresses, infected plants will wilt and die.

Treating Spinach Plants with Beet Curly Top Virus

Unfortunately, there are no treatments for infected spinach plants with beet curly top. If the disease is discovered, plants should be dug up and destroyed immediately to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Prevention is the only helpful course of action to defend plants against spinach beet curly top infections. There are also no spinach varieties which are resistant to this disease.

Weeds, specifically lambsquarter, Russian thistle and four-wing saltbush, are susceptible to spinach beet curly top. These weeds are also a food source and provide safe hiding places for beet leafhoppers. Therefore, weed control can help reduce the spread of this disease.

Chemical insecticides can be used to kill leafhoppers on weeds, but it is not recommended to use these chemicals on the edibles in the garden. Leafhoppers are most active in hot, humid weather. Delaying fall planting by a few weeks can help reduce the risk of spinach beet curly top. Covering young garden plants with row covers can also prevent the spread of this disease.

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