What Is Spinach Blight: Learn About Spinach Cucumber Mosaic Virus

What Is Spinach Blight: Learn About Spinach Cucumber Mosaic Virus

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

It is difficult to control everything in your vegetable patch. Pest and disease issues are bound to come up. In the case of spinach, a common problem is both a pest and a disease issue. Blight of spinach is spread by certain insect vectors. The full name is spinach cucumber mosaic virus, and it affects other plants as well. Find out what causes the disease and the best spinach blight treatment available.

What is Spinach Blight?

Fresh spinach is nutritious, delicious and a speedy grower. From seed to table, it usually only takes just over a month before you can start harvesting the tender, sweet baby leaves. Spinach blight is an issue that can rapidly decimate your tasty crop. What is spinach blight? It is a virus that is spread by leafhoppers, aphids, and cucumber beetles. There is no treatment for the disease, so prevention is your best option.

Cucumber mosaic virus in spinach starts as yellowing of the leaves. This chlorosis spreads and the crown leaves become wrinkled and distorted. Leaves may roll inward. Growth slows and young plants that are affected early may die. The leaves become paper thin, almost as if water soaked. If pest insects are present, even one infected plant will spread it to the others in the crop. The disease can also spread mechanically or by handling plants.

The virus responsible for blight of spinach, Marmor cucumeris, also survives in the seeds of wild cucumber, milkweed, ground cherry, and matrimonial vine.

Spinach Blight Treatment

At the first sign of any infection, pull up the plant and discard it. The virus may survive in compost heaps, so it is best to throw the plant away. At the end of each season, clean up all plant debris.

Prior to planting and during the growing season, keep host weeds cleared from the vegetable patch. Protect plants from the sucking activities of aphids by using horticultural oil spray and encouraging beneficial insects such as ladybugs and spiders.

High temperatures seem to encourage the spread of the disease. Provide cooling shade cover during hot days. Do not grow spinach near cucurbits and other susceptible vegetables.

There are several commercial seed varieties that are resistant to the disease. Perhaps your best chance against cucumber mosaic virus in spinach is to use these cultivars. Try these resistant spinach varieties:

  • Melody F1
  • Savoy Hybrid 612F
  • Tyee
  • Butterflay
  • Renegade
  • Virginia Savoy
  • Avon
  • Bloomsdale Savoy
  • Early Hybrid #7 F1
  • Menorca

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