White Rusty Turnips: What causes the white spots on turnip leaves?

The white rust fungus on crucifers is a common disease. White turnip rust is the result of a fungus, Albugo candida , which is hosted by host plants and spread by wind and rain. The disease affects turnip leaves, mainly causing cosmetic damage but, in extreme cases, it can reduce the health of the leaves to such an extent that they can no longer photosynthesize and root growth is compromised. Read on to find out what to do about white rust on turnips.

About the white spots on turnip leaves

Turnip roots are not the only edible part of this cross. Turnip leaves are rich in iron and vitamins and have a spicy flavor that enhances many recipes. White turnip can easily be misdiagnosed as having another disease. Symptoms are consistent with several other fungal diseases and some cultural defects. Fungal diseases such as these are favoured by several key environmental conditions. Good agricultural practices are essential for the management of this disease.

Symptoms of white turnip leaf rust begin with yellow spots on the upper surface of the leaves. As the disease progresses, the underside of the leaves develops tiny white blister-like pustules. These lesions may contribute to the deformation or stunting of leaves, stems or flowers. The white spots on turnip leaves ripen and burst, releasing sporangia that look like white powder and spread to neighbouring plants. Infected plants wilt and often die. Greens have a bitter taste and should not be used.

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The fungus overwinters in the remains of the crops and shelters plants such as wild mustard and shepherd’s purse, plants that are also cruciferous. It spreads with wind and rain and can move quickly from field to field in perfect conditions. Temperatures of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 C.) favour the development of fungi. It is also more frequent when dew or humidity combines with the spores.

The fungus can survive for years until ideal conditions are created. Once you have turnips with white rust, there is no recommended control except removing the plants. Since the sporangia can survive in the compost bin, it is best to destroy them.

Prevention of white rust on turnips

Registered fungicides are not recommended, but some gardeners swear by formulas that control powdery mildew, a disease that closely resembles powdery mildew.

Cultural practices are more effective. Rotate crops with non-cruciferous products every two years. Remove old plants before preparing the seedbed. Keep wild crucifers away from flower beds. If possible, purchase seed that has been treated with a fungicide.

Avoid watering plants on the leaves; plan to water under the leaves and water only when the leaves have a chance to dry out before sunset.

Some seasons, fungal diseases will be more aggressive, but with some advance planning, your crop should be able to avoid any type of large-scale white rust.

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