Potatoes

Potato Curly Top Virus – Discover the management of Curly Top in potatoes

The potato is susceptible to a number of diseases, as historically illustrated by the Great Potato Famine of 1845-1849. Although this famine was caused by late blight, a disease that destroys not only the foliage but also the edible tuber, a somewhat milder disease, the potato curly-top virus, can still wreak havoc in the potato garden. What causes potato curly top virus? Read on to find out about the symptoms of curlyhead potatoes and how to handle curlyheads.

What causes potato virus?

The pathogen is transmitted by the beet grasshopper, Curculifer tenellus . As the name implies, the leafhopper transmits the disease to several crops and weeds, including

  • Beetroot
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Beans
  • Cucurbits
  • Spinach

Both the grasshopper and the virus survive on a wide range of weeds and wild plants. The grasshopper ingests cell sap, which contains the virus, which is then incubated in the grasshopper for 4 to 21 hours before being transmitted. The disease is then transported through plant tissue.

Symptoms of curly-top virus in potatoes

Potatoes with curly tops usually have dwarfed, rolled or hollowed out yellow leaves. The foliage becomes mottled yellow and leaflets tend to curl. The veins of the outer leaflets remain green, but the rest of the leaflets turn yellow. Infected tubers are often small and sometimes elongated, and aerial tubers may form.

Symptoms of curly tops on potatoes appear after 24 hours in hot weather and more slowly in cold weather.

Curly Top Management

The curly tip is transmitted by pieces of seed potatoes, so one method of controlling the disease is to use certified seed potatoes.

One obvious control method would be to control the leafhopper population but unfortunately this has proven difficult because insecticides are not effective. Instead, commercial growers use mechanical mesh barriers on susceptible plants. A more realistic approach to insect control is to control the weed population, especially those weeds that grasshoppers find most attractive, such as Russian thistle.

Once symptoms appear, it is best to remove the seed potato(s) and destroy them.

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