Cannabis growers should be wary of Beet Curly Top Virus (BCTV) – it spreads quickly and can decimate crops. Early testing is the best way to prevent BCTV from spreading.
The team at PML Laboratories can test your cannabis crop for a wide range of viruses and viroids, including BCTV. Contact us today to start testing.
What is Beet Curly Top Virus?
BCTV has been around in the U.S. since the late 19th century. Its name refers to the preferred food of beet leafhoppers. These pests devastated beet production in the U.S. for decades, especially in the Midwest.
The virus was identified in cannabis crops in 2019. It can cause stunting, yellowing, and in some cases, can wipe out entire crops. However, its behavior in hemp plants is poorly understood – the virus seems to produce unique symptoms in different hemp strains.
Symptoms & Identification
Most hemp plants infected with BCTV display leaves curling upwards and turning yellow. Some plants recover from mild infections and become asymptomatic without intervention. However, more severe cases lead to yellowing across the whole cannabis plant. Growth becomes twisted and stunted, and leaves curl upwards or form incompletely.
Preventing the Spread
Testing plants upon arrival is essential.
For growers who produce multiple crops, isolating your cannabis crop from other crops is a good prevention strategy. While leafhoppers will eat hemp if they find it, they prefer other crops such as beets, tomatoes, peppers, and squashes. Bringing these plants into the same environment as your hemp crop increases the risk of spreading BCTV.
Any new plant should undergo testing for BCTV and other pathogens.
How Damaging is Beet Curly Top Virus?
BCTV can devastate a cannabis crop if allowed to spread. Once leafhoppers have entered a field crop, finding and removing them is extremely difficult. They move fast and can reproduce rapidly.
There’s no guarantee that any crop will recover or become asymptomatic – widespread stunting and yellowing are a more likely outcome.
The best way growers can prevent BCTV from attacking their cannabis crop is to test new arrivals for the virus and its carriers. PML Laboratories offers beet curly top virus testing – get in touch now and start testing.