Tomato, Pepper, Eggplant Diseases - Curly Top Disease
(Beet Curly Top Virus)
Tomato plant with curly top disease.
Purple veins on the underside of leaves due to curly top.
Adult beet leafhopper
Curly top disease of tomato and pepper is caused by beet curly top virus, of the Curtovirus group. In recent years, due to molecular identification, it was discovered that there is not just one beet curly top virus, but several viruses with different characteristics causing similar symptoms on tomatoes and peppers. The disease can be devastating on tomatoes and peppers. Other hosts include: beets, chard, spinach, beans, and cucurbits.
Tomato and pepper plants infected with curly top are stunted and have upwards curled, yellow leaves. The veins on the underside of tomato leaves are purple. Infected plants may not produce fruit, or fruit that develops will ripen prematurely. While older plants are less susceptible to the virus, plants that are infected at an early stage may die
Management of curly top disease is challenging in part because there are no resistant tomato or pepper varieties available. The following suggestions may help reduce disease incidence.
- Delay planting by one or two weeks. Planting after migration of leafhoppers has moved through can reduce disease incidence significantly, depending on the area.
- Manage weeds. Weeds can be treated with insecticides against beet leafhoppers but it will be ineffective to treat tomatoes.
- Use dense plant spacing. Dense plantings will make it more difficult for the insects to find the plants.
- Use row covers. Row covers for the first 6-8 weeks of planting will exclude leafhoppers.
- Use intercropping or trap crops. Leafhoppers are attracted to plants that highly contrast with their surroundings.