Mottling, streaking, puckering or curling of leaves, stunting of fruits and of plants are all typical symptoms of viral diseases. Many types of viruses can infect plants in home vegetable gardens. Virus-susceptible plants include beans, celery, corn, cucumbers, peas, peppers, spinach, and tomatoes. One well-known virus is the cucumber mosaic virus, which infects cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers.
Symptoms include green and yellow mottling of leaves, curled leaves, stunted plants, and fruits with light splotches and warty bumps on them. Many viruses are spread from plant to plant by sucking insects, such as aphids and leafhoppers. In general, viruses overwinter on perennial weeds and plant debris in the soil.
Prevention and Control
- Choose virus-resistant varieties when available such as Big Beef tomato and Olympian cucumber.
- Cover plants with garden fabric or take other measures to minimize damage from insects, such as aphids that can spread virus diseases as they feed.
- Control weeds that might harbor viruses, such as chickweed, nightshade and purslane.
- Pull up and destroy virus-infected plants.
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