Find information on this page about key sugarbeet insects and diseases, including pest descriptions, plant symptoms and control recommendations from Syngenta crop experts. Our extensive sugarbeet product portfolio, which includes Hilleshög® brand sugarbeet seed and CruiserMaxx® Sugarbeets insecticide/fungicide seed treatment combination of separately registered products, offers a wide spectrum of pest management options so growers can produce quality sugar at full yield potential. Your local Syngenta representative can assist with more information about our sugarbeet product portfolio.

Additional information on sugarbeet insects and disease can be found in the Compendium of Beet Diseases and Pests from the American Phytopathology Society.


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Aphanomyces root rot

Aphanomyces cochlioides
Description

Aphanomyces root rot is a soilborne fungal disease in sugarbeets that is favored by warm and moist conditions. Found in all sugarbeet growing regions, Aphanomyces root rot is a threat both in the fields and storage, and can be detectable on young plants early in the season. As the disease progresses in sugarbeets, lesions on the stem blacken and the stem becomes thin. Aphanomyces also weakens roots and causes beets to be easily displaced from soil, especially during the defoliation process.

Aphanomyces Rot Symptoms
Acute:
  • Seedling damping off several weeks post emergence
  • Gray, water-soaked lesions on stems near the soil

Chronic:
  • Stunted, yellowed leaves with non-vigorous growth
  • Daytime wilting (recovery at night)
  • Scorched and brittle leaves
  • Yellow-brown lesions on taproots
  • Yellow-brown root tissues

Control
  • Plant early, before optimum temperature for the disease is reached
  • Control potential weed hosts, such as pigweed and lambsquarters
  • Cultivate to keep soil dry
  • Select Hilleshög® brand varieties with tolerance to Aphanomyces



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Beet curly top

Geminiviridae curtovirus
Description Beet Curly Top

Beet curly top is caused by a virus transmitted solely via the beet leafhopper. Beet leafhoppers can acquire the virus in as little as a few minutes of feeding and can transmit the virus to other plants for up to one month. The pathogen is found mostly in the western part of the United States and Canada. Beet curly top affects root systems and causes considerable damage if crops are infected early in the season.

Symptoms
  • Dwarfed, crinkled leaves that curl upward and inward
  • Irregularly shaped, swollen veins on lower sides of infected leaves
  • Darkened vascular tissue (visible when sugarbeets are cut crosswise)
  • Young roots are dwarfed, distorted and often killed, resulting in a “hairy root” that resembles an unrelated disease, Rhizomania

Control
  • Plant early to avoid dry conditions
  • Control weeds and other plants that may serve as overwintering hosts of the virus and/or leafhopper
  • Select Hilleshög® brand varieties with tolerance to curly top
  • Use CruiserMaxx Sugarbeets® seed treatment insecticide/fungicide combination to protect against beet leafhopper



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Beet leafhopper

Circulifer tenellus
Beet Leafhopper Description

Favoring dry, arid conditions, the beet leafhopper overwinters on weeds like wild mustard and Russian thistle before migrating to sugarbeet fields in the spring. Beet leafhoppers are 1/8-inch long and green, gray or brown with dark markings on the upper surface of their body. Beet leafhopper feeding causes insignificant damage on its own. The main concern about the beet leafhopper is that the insect can vector the curly top virus. Controlling beet leafhopper is crucial to preventing curly top in sugarbeet crops.

Symptoms

Because the beet leafhopper alone doesn’t generally cause significant damage, infestations are typically recognized through symptoms of curly top virus. Symptoms for curly top include:

  • Dwarfed, crinkled leaves that curl upward and inward
  • Irregularly shaped, swollen veins on lower sides of infected leaves
  • Darkened vascular tissue (visible when sugarbeets are cut crosswise)
  • Young roots are dwarfed, distorted and often killed, resulting in a “hairy root” that resembles an unrelated disease, Rhizomania

Control
  • Plant early to avoid dry conditions
  • Control weeds and other plants that may serve as overwintering hosts of the leafhopper or virus
  • Select Hilleshög® brand varieties with tolerance to curly top
  • Use CruiserMaxx Sugarbeets® seed treatment insecticide/fungicide combination to protect against beet leafhopper



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Cercospora leaf spot

Cercospora beticola
Cercospora Leaf Spot Description

Cercospora leaf spot is a highly destructive foliar disease caused by the fungal pathogen Cercospora beticola and survives in infected plant residue in soil. Reductions in root size and sugar content are common in an infected crop, causing up to 40 percent yield reduction. Primary infections of Cercospora begin with spores from infected beet debris or previously infected plants and spread via wind, water and, occasionally, insects. The disease favors warm, humid conditions.

Symptoms
  • Lesions are 1/8-inch wide with tan- or ash-colored centers and purple or brown borders and are circular or oval-shaped
  • Lesions coalesce and kill parts of leaves, causing defoliation

Control
  • Rotate crops at least every three years
  • Plant sugarbeets at least 100 yards from fields infected the previous year
  • Select Hilleshög® brand varieties with tolerance to Cercospora
  • Apply a fungicide like Inspire® XT



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Cyst nematode

Heterodera schachtii
Description

The sugarbeet cyst nematode is a microscopic parasitic roundworm that overwinters in soil and infects sugarbeets at the tips of their roots in warm, wet conditions during the spring and continues to thrive in dry summers. Nematodes invade the sugarbeet root system, break down cell walls and can severely hinder plant growth and sugar content. Cyst nematode eggs can also remain dormant in soil for many years.

Symptoms
  • Stunted plant growth
  • Wilted plants
  • Yellow leaves
  • Hairy or “bearded” sugarbeet roots

Control
  • Apply nematicide or fumigants
  • Test soil for cyst nematodes
  • Do not return tare soil to the field
  • Plant a trap crop like oil radish or mustard
  • Select a seed variety with tolerance to sugarbeet cyst nematodes


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Erwinia soft rot

Erwinia Soft Rot
Erwinia carotovora subspecies carotovora
Description

Erwinia carotovora subspecies carotovora is a bacterial pathogen that infects sugarbeet roots and results in Erwinia soft rot disease. The disease is difficult to detect above ground, making it virtually unnoticeable until it has become severe. Erwinia carotovora subspecies carotovorais moved from plant to plant via machinery, wind and water to infect crops.

Symptoms
  • Pink to red-brown rot develops in root
  • Soft to dry rot in roots
  • Roots may become hollow without dying
  • Wilted plants
  • Occasional brown, oozing lesions on petioles and crown
Erwinia Soft Rot
Control
  • Use minimal fertilizer
  • Follow best practices for good soil structure
  • Plant early
  • Plant sugarbeets six to eight inches apart
  • Select Hilleshög® brand varieties with tolerance to Erwinia










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Fusarium yellows & root rot

Fusarium oxysporum
Fusarium Yellows Description

Fusarium yellows and root rot are wilt and rotting fungal diseases that commonly occur in late spring as soil temperatures rise in wet conditions. The fungal pathogen attacks roots by forming new spores that germinate and infect susceptible plants before infecting the vascular system, producing symptom-inducing toxins and hindering water transpiration. The fungal pathogen for Fusarium diseases can survive in soil for many years.

Symptoms
  • Yellowing between veins of older leaves
  • Leaves become dry and brittle, tending to surround the crown
  • Scorched leaves
  • Vascular necrosis
  • Daytime wilting, recovery at night
  • Premature death
  • Black tip at the distal end of the taproot (root rot only)
Fusarium Yellows

Control
  • Plant early before soil temperatures rise
  • Select Hilleshög® brand varieties with tolerance to Fusarium
  • Use a seed treatment like CruiserMaxx Sugarbeets® seed treatment insecticide/fungicide combination to protect against Fusarium








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Powdery mildew

Erysiphe polygoni
Powdery Mildew Description

Powdery mildew is a foliar sugarbeet disease caused by the fungal pathogen Erysiphe polygoni that hinders photosynthesis. The disease can progress rapidly and is much easier to control when detected early. Because powdery mildew thrives in dry conditions and its growth is inhibited by free moisture, it tends to develop more slowly in fields where sprinkler irrigation is used. Early symptoms are difficult to detect and often go untreated, which can cause devastating yield loss. The fungal pathogen of powdery mildew travels in the air and is capable of infecting fields over long distances.

Symptoms
  • Begins as small, radiating, dusty white mats on lower, older leaves of the plant
  • As the disease progresses, white or gray-white growth will cover leaves and spread
  • Characteristic odor, similar to a dank, musty basement
  • Leaves turn yellow within a month of infection

Control
  • Scout for disease early and often
  • Select Hilleshög® brand varieties with tolerance to powdery mildew
  • Apply a fungicide like Inspire® XT


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Pythium root rot

Pythium species
Pythium root rot Description

Pythium is a soilborne fungus that infects sugarbeets under hot conditions with excessive soil moisture. The disease can infect seedlings and hinder stand establishment, but is also capable of damaging mature beets late in the season. Root rot caused by Pythium, damages root systems before progressing to foliage in later stages. Heavy infestions of Pythium significantly reduce sugar content and quality.

Symptoms
  • Taproots of mature beets turn brown to black
  • Wilting foliage
  • Yellowing foliage
  • Older leaves may have black, watery lesions at petiole base


Pythium Root Rot Control
  • Provide ample field drainage
  • Prevent excessive moisture from irrigation systems
  • Use raised beds and sprinkler irrigation when excessive moisture is unavoidable
  • Rotate to non-susceptible crops
  • Use a seed treatment like CruiserMaxx Sugarbeets® seed treatment insecticide/fungicide combination to protect against Pythium






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Rhizoctonia root & crown rot

Rhizoctonia solani
Rhizoctonia Description

Rhizoctonia is a soilborne fungus that occurs in all sugarbeet growing regions. The fungal pathogen Rhizoctonia solani overwinters in soil and plant tissue before resuming growth in the spring and summer. Thriving in warm, wet weather conditions, Rhizoctonia rots root and crown tissue, reducing sugar content and quality. Rhizoctonia can appear quickly and have severely devastating effects, including entire field loss.

Symptoms
  • Darkened tissue starts below the soil surface and eventually spreads to the hypocotyl
  • Wilted seedlings
  • Stunted leaf growth
  • Dull leaf color
  • Quick-onset foliage wilting
  • Yellow leaf tissue followed by death
  • Dark brown/black lesions on petioles
  • Dark brown/black root tissue
  • Cavities in beets with thick bacterial liquid and fermentation odors

Control
  • Minimize crop stress
  • Extend crop rotations to four to five years where Rhizoctonia is a problem
  • Select Hilleshög® brand varieties with tolerance to Rhizoctonia
  • Apply a fungicide like Quadris®
  • Use a seed treatment like CruiserMaxx Sugarbeets® seed treatment insecticide/fungicide combination to protect against Rhizoctonia


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Rhizomania

Beet necrotic yellow vein
Rhizomania Description

Rhizomania, caused by the beet necrotic yellow vein virus, is one of the most destructive sugarbeet diseases. The virus is vectored by a soilborne pathogen, Polymyxa betae, that by itself is relatively innocuous, but in combination with the virus is severely problematic especially under warm, wet conditions. Infected fungal zoospores and/or resting spores can be easily dispersed within and among fields via wind, running water and contaminated equipment. The infection enters roots and blocks moisture and nutrient uptake from sugarbeets resulting in poor quality beets. In favorable conditions, Rhizomania can cause 100 percent yield loss.

Symptoms
  • Wilted leaves
  • Stunted root growth
  • Large number of lateral roots emerging from the main taproot
  • Excess rootlets that cause “bearded” appearance
  • Small, dark roots
  • Rotted off roots
  • Visibly darkened vascular rings
  • Abnormally large crown
  • Bright leaves
  • Yellow veins on leaves

Control
  • Employ water management to mitigate areas that are saturated or with standing water
  • Increase seedling rates to compensate for germination loss during cool temperatures to help ensure canopy closure
  • Select Hilleshög® brand varieties with tolerance to Rhizomania


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Sugarbeet root aphid

Pemphigus populivenae
Root Aphid Description

Sugarbeet root aphids damage sugarbeets by feeding on the sap in roots, reducing the plant’s ability to take up nutrients and water. Sugarbeet root aphids are about 1/16-inch long and appear white to yellow-green. They overwinter in plant hosts like common lambsquarters and redroot pigweed and migrate to sugarbeets in early summer. Sugarbeet root aphid infestations will often appear in circular or elliptical patterns in the field. Some adults develop wings and are able to fly, while others travel via water and wind. Sugarbeet root aphids ultimately reduce tonnage, sugar and quality.

Symptoms
  • Wilted plants
  • Leaf chlorosis
  • Flimsy, limp roots
  • White-gray, mold-like substance adjacent to the root
  • Under moisture stress, severely injured plants will collapse and die

Root Aphid
Control
  • Practice conventional tillage
  • Employ a three-year minimum rotation of host crops in infected fields
  • Maintain soil moisture, as yield and quality losses are most severe in sugarbeets under water stress
  • Maintain good control of weed hosts such as common lambsquarters and redroot pigweed
  • Select Hilleshög® brand varieties with tolerance to root aphids







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