Bright yellow, red, or purple leaves may indicate beet western yellows, though this plant disease is not limited to beets or the west.
Found around the world, the beet western yellows virus is responsible for significant losses in many different crops. Unfortunately, free-to-use photos are not as readily available. You can search online to see what this disease looks like.
Beet western yellows host plants
This disease occurs on over 250 plant species, including beets, broccoli, cabbage, canola, cauliflower, chickpeas, endive, escarole, fava beans, lentils, lettuce, mustard, peas, peppers, radish, spinach, sunflowers, tomatoes, turnips, and oilseed rape. Oilseed rape is a member of the cabbage family grown for its oily seeds and as food for livestock.
It can also occur on annual phlox, bee’s friend, false flax, and lupine. Weeds that harbor beet western yellows include chickweed, common groundsel, prickly lettuce, little mallow, shepherd’s purse, sowthistles, and pennycress. [Even though it is a weed, pennycress is commonly used to salvage toxic soil through phytoremediation.]
Beet western yellows virus symptoms
Symptoms of beet western yellows infection vary depending on the affected species. To complicate matters, there are multiple strains of this virus, which can make diagnosis tricky.
Most plants infected with BWYV don’t show any signs at first. Then red, blue, purple, or black discolorations that start at the tips and edges of leaves appear. Eventually, the entire leaf turns bright yellow or orange. Petioles and veins remain green or may be pale. Infected leaves feel thick and brittle, and they may curl upward. Stunting is common and leaf crinkling may occur. These symptoms often look similar to iron or nitrogen deficiencies, or chemical overspray.
Beet western yellows virus management
Beet western yellows virus is a luteovirus. Luteoviruses are spread by aphids. Specifically, green peach aphids and wheat aphids, though other aphid species are involved. So, the best way to prevent and manage beet western yellows is to control aphids and eliminate rouge host plants.
Also known as turnip yellows and turnip mild yellows, resistance to this disease is indicated on plant labels with the letters TuYV, BWYV, and TuMYV. Buying resistant plants makes your job a lot easier.
Avoid planting too early in a season as this can make plants more vulnerable to beet western yellows. Infected plants should be tossed in the trash.
There are no chemical controls for viruses (yet).
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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