Curly dwarf may sound like the punchline from a bad joke, but this viral disease can ruin your artichoke plants.
Curly dwarf is a fatal disease spread by insects. Knowing what it looks like can help you keep it from spreading to uninfected plants. While only found on artichokes, in the field, cardoons, sunflowers, and zinnias have been infected in laboratory tests.
Curly dwarf, also known as artichoke curly dwarf, is caused by the artichoke curly dwarf virus (ACDV). While we know very little about this particular virus, we do know that it is almost always found in tandem with another virus (Artichoke latent virus), which seems to have no disease symptoms.
Symptoms of curly dwarf
Severe stunting, leaf curling, and reduced bud production, with buds remaining small and often misshapen, indicate that your plant has become infected with curly dwarf. Leaves may also have dark, dead areas.
Preventing curly dwarf
As of this writing, we do not know which insects spread curly dwarf. We do know that it is transmissible. Remove infected plants right away. This virus can also spread when divided infected plants for propagation purposes, so only use certified disease-free plants.
Since the virus also lives on milk thistle (Silybum marianum), keeping those weeds away from your artichoke plant may reduce the chance of infection.
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