Turnip Mosaic Virus – Learn more about Turnip Mosaic Virus

The mosaic virus infects most cruciferous plants, including Chinese cabbage, mustard, radish and turnip. Turnip mosaic virus is considered one of the most widespread and damaging viruses that infects crops. How is turnip mosaic virus spread? What are the symptoms of turnip mosaic virus in turnips and how can it be controlled?

Symptoms of turnip mosaic virus

The appearance of mosaic virus on turnips is in the form of a chlorotic ring spot on the young leaves of turnips. As the leaf ages, the leaf spots develop into a mosaic of light and dark green flecks on the plant leaves. In turnips infected with the mosaic virus, these lesions become necrotic and usually occur near the leaf veins.

The whole plant can atrophy and deform and yields are reduced. Infected turnip plants tend to flower early. Heat-resistant cultivars are most susceptible to the turnip mosaic virus.

Control of Turnip Mosaic Virus

The disease is not seed-borne and is transmitted by several species of aphids, mainly the green peach aphid ( Myzus persicae ) and the cabbage aphid ( Brevicoryne brassicae ). Aphids transmit the disease from other plants and from diseased weeds to healthy plants.

The mosaic virus is not transmitted by seeds of any species, so the most common viral source is mustard, a weed similar to watercress and shepherd’s purse. These weeds overwinter and harbour both the virus and aphids. To control Turnip Mosaic Virus, these weeds must be controlled before planting.

Insecticides don’t work fast enough to kill a population of aphids before they transmit the virus. However, they do reduce the aphid population and therefore the speed of spread of the virus.

Resistant cultivars are still being evaluated, but at the time of writing there are no reliable resistant cultivars. Those that are more promising tend to be heat intolerant.

Practice excellent sanitation in the field to reduce disease transmission. Remove and destroy or grow under plant debris at the end of the growing season. Remove diseased plants immediately upon detection of disease. Destroy volunteer mustard and turnip plants.

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