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Leafy Green Diseases - Curly Top of Spinach, Chard, and Beet Greens

Figure 8.20Curly top virus in spinach; note dead portions of leaves and smaller size (right).

Curly top virus fieldCurly top virus field symptoms of spinach.

Virus on SpinachCurly top virus of spinach; note chlorosis and necrosis of leaves.

Virus on ChardCurly top virus symptoms in chard; note the wrinkled leaves.

Virus on beet greensCurly top virus symptoms on beet greens; note malformed and small leaves.

Virus on beetHealthy beet (left) compared to a beet infected with curly top virus (right).


Curly top disease is caused by curtoviruses transmitted by beet leafhoppers.


Plants are stunted and leaves are yellow and wrinkled. This should not be mistaken for some spinach varieties that naturally have crinkled leaves. Depending on the severity of infection entire fields of spinach or beet can be lost.


In the spring and summer, beet leafhoppers migrate from their overwintering sites into vegetable fields. They can acquire the virus by feeding on infected weeds and subsequently spread it to susceptible vegetables such as spinach, beets, chard, tomato or pepper. Once acquired, beet leafhoppers will carry and transmit the virus for the rest of their life.


Once a plant is infected there is no cure. There are currently no resistant beet, chard, or spinach varieties available.

      • Maintain good weed control in areas close to host crops to help remove virus reservoirs.