Skip to Content

Top Problems Growing Beets and How to Fix It

Beets are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. They’re yummy to eat, and they don’t require a lot of maintenance other than proper watering, fertilizing, and keeping them free of pesky bugs.

There are some common problems that beets experience: weak growth, discolored leaves, insect infestations, disease, and abnormal growth. Some of these problems are more of a nuisance than a danger to your plants. Other issues require the plants to be destroyed. 

We’re going to discuss some of the most common problems that you may face when growing raspberries, including the cause of the problem and how to treat it. Get ready to enjoy the bountiful harvest of tasty beets by knowing how to diagnose common beet problems. Read on!

Beets Are Not Growing

If your beet plants seem to be experiencing stunted growth and short roots, it could be that you have your plants placed too close together. For proper growth, beets need to be spaced apart, so they have plenty of room as they transform from seeds into yummy bushy plants.

To ensure your plants have enough room, plant seedlings at least one to three inches apart. Your rows should have at least a foot of space between them. This gives your plants adequate room to grow and ensures your plants are getting enough nutrients.

If your beets fail to grow as seeds, it means that you planted them at the wrong time of year. Beets cannot grow in hot weather. Make sure you always plant your beet seeds at the correct time. 

Beets harvested during warm weather can result in bland, unappetizing beets. It’s best to plant beets in early spring in soil that’s at least 50°F (10°C). You can continue to grow beets until mid-summer, or until daytime temperatures rise to about 75°F (23.8°C). 

Nutritional Malfunction

Poor growth can also be due to a chemical imbalance. If your plants are adequately spaced and still not growing correctly, you could be experiencing a problem with low phosphorus, which is a crucial nutrient for bulb and root growth. 

Too much nitrogen can cause your beets to have healthy leaves but not much bulb size. Use a soil testing kit such as the MySoil Soil Test Kit to determine the nutritional content of your soil. 

There’s no need to panic if your soil is showing that it does not have the proper nutrients for your beet plants. You can always use fertilizer or individual minerals to create balanced nutrition. 

Beet Leaves Are Turning Yellow

If your leafy greens are turning yellow, it could be a few different problems that you would need to address. One possible condition that could be causing beet leaves to turn yellow is a nutrient deficiency. 

Plants that don’t have enough sulfur can cause plant leaves to change from green to yellow. Test your soil to check sulfur levels.

Or it could be that your plants have a disease or you could be dealing with a simple case of pests. Pests and diseases often go hand in hand as many insects are the cause of your plants getting infected with an illness. 

But that’s not to mean that all insects cause disease. Some types of insects are beneficial to your plants. 

Curly Top

If you’re dealing with infected plants, the most likely cause of yellowed beet leaves would be Curly Top. This disease is caused by insects called leafhoppers. In addition to yellow leaves, your plants will also have stunted growth and will eventually die. 

The leaves of plants infected with Curly Top will start to curl in on itself, with swollen roots. The beet bulb will have discoloration, and the roots will become twisted and hairy. 

There is no treatment for Curly Top. Once your plants are infected, they will eventually die. But while they are alive, your healthy plants are at risk of becoming infected too. The best course of action is to destroy infected plants immediately upon diagnoses. 

Beet Western Yellows

Another disease that frequently turns beet leaves yellow is Beet Western Yellows. This condition causes the leaves to start by having yellow spots on the interveinal areas around the tips. 

Over time, the yellow gets more pronounced, taking over more of the plant tissue. The leaves will become thick, brittle, and almost entirely yellow instead of green. 

When you notice infected plants, it’s best to separate them from healthy ones as soon as possible, so the disease doesn’t spread. 

Beet Yellow Stunt

When Beet Yellow Stunt disease infects your plants, you will notice leaves spotted with yellow dots. 

Some of the older leaves might have larger leaf growth with a gnarled, cup shape. The petioles will be shorter. And the younger leaves will be small and deformed with yellow spots. Overall, your beet leaves will have a very unbalanced small appearance. 

Leafhoppers

Leafhoppers are between ¼” and ⅛” long with wedge-shaped bodies. These plants drink the nectar out of your plants, causing the leaves to dry out and curl. The leaves may also turn brown on the edges. 

These insects feed on many types of plants, including beets. They’re known as beet leafhoppers because they show this hearty vegetable special attention. Many times, a plant won’t be severely damaged or die due to leafhoppers. 

However, because leafhoppers can spread Curly Top disease, it’s dangerous to allow them to feed on your beets. Leafhoppers can also carry other plant diseases that can be transferred to your beets. 

To prevent Curly Top, you need to use preventative measures to avoid leafhopper infestation. Use an insecticide safe for harvest vegetables to keep your plants free of leafhoppers and other pests. Or use a natural insect repellant for a non-lethal approach.

Beet Yellow Vein

Beet Yellow Vein causes young leaves to have stunted growth and yellowed veins. Your plants will take on an asymmetrical appearance. One side will look ordinary, while the other has reduced growth and smaller design.

If your leaves have the same shape on both sides but they’re yellow-colored instead of green, you’re most likely looking at a different disease than beet yellow vein. 

Black Root Rot

A condition called Black Root Rot can cause your plants to start turning yellow. You’ll also have drooping leaves and affected growth. 

In addition to the damage done to the leaves, Black Root causes problems with the root system. The lateral roots will be dry, shriveled, and black. This condition can cause the leaves and beet bulbs to be inedible. 

Aphids

Aphids are another pest that frequently attacks beet leaves. These tiny sucking insects can be in different colors. When they feed on your plants, it causes the leaves to become curled or twisted.

The leaf color changes from bright green to a sickly yellow. You may notice a sticky residue on the plants if there have been Aphids feeding on them. Ladybugs are a great deterrent to Aphids and other bug infestations, and they don’t harm your plants. 

To control Aphids, you can use insecticidal soaps to prevent infestation. To remove the bugs off your plants immediately, you can spray your plants with a water hose. 

Beet Leaves Are Turning Brown

If your beet leaves start turning brown, the first thing to do is to identify where the leaves are becoming discolored. There are different causes for a leaf browning around the edges than there is for foliage turning brown from spots.

If your leaves start turning brown and brittle, with brown or gray dots surrounded by halos of red-purple, your beet plant could be caused by Cercospora leaf spots. This fungal condition is caused by spores that are spread from water and wind. 

Leaves that turn from pale green to shriveled and brown could be a sign of infestation. You might have a problem with an insect called beet leaf miner. These bugs lay larvae on the plant, which then tunnel into the leaves. Infected plants don’t have to be destroyed, but the damaged leaves will not be edible. 

Beet Leaves Are Turning Red

If you’re looking for a cause of green leaves turning red, first, ensure you haven’t planted a variety that naturally produces red leaves. 

But if your leaves are supposed to be green, but instead are turning red, there are a few causes.  

One common condition that can cause red leaves is a drop in temperatures. If your area has experienced cold weather lately, that could be what turned your leaves red. 

If you’re noticing red around the leaf margins and tips that are dying, you could be looking at a problem with boron deficiency. You’ll also see wrinkled leaves, cracked roots, and black spots. 

Boron deficiency can happen by improper watering. Your soil should stay moist and with a pH balance of 6.0 to 7.0 to prevent boron problems. 

Beet Leaves Are Wilting

Various issues can cause wilting beet leaves. Curly Top is a frequent cause of plants that have drooping leaves. If Curly Top disease is the problem, you’ll notice young leaves taking on a curled appearance and start to develop blisters and thickening veins. 

Black root rot can also cause your plants to wilt as this condition rots the plant from the roots up. Your leaves will be wilted and start to turn yellow. 

Rhizoctonia Root and Crown Rot

If your plants are infected with a disease called Rhizoctonia Root and crown rot, one of the first symptoms is wilted leaves that have turned yellow. As the leaves die, the rosettes turn dry and blacken. 

This fungus-caused disease most frequently occurs during the spring and summer when the soil temperatures rise to provide proper breed grounds for the fungus to grow. Ensuring there is adequate drainage and neat beds will reduce the chances of this illness.

Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium Wilt is a disease that affects many harvest plants, including beets. This condition will cause beet leaves to wilt and dry out. The leaves towards the center of the head will become gnarled and deformed. They will also begin to turn yellow.

There is no treatment for Verticillium wilt. Once your plants are infected, they will stay that way until they eventually die. Younger plants die quicker than aged plants. 

Malnutrition 

Improper nutrition can also be a cause of wilting beet leaves. You could be looking at a case of nitrogen deficiency. This condition starts with yellow leaves. Then the leaves will lose their vitality and begin to droop. 

To treat this condition, check the soil levels using a testing kit. Treat your plants with quality fertilizer with a 10-10-10 ratio of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Using this mixture is sure to make your plants grow leafy and healthy green. 

Beet Leaves Are Turning White

If your leaves have a white powdery residue on them, you could have a problem with powdery mildew. You’ll notice this mold growing on the older leaves first, leaving behind white to grayish filaments. There might also be a musty odor coming from the leaves. 

Once this condition starts, mildew can overtake the plant within a week. Leaves might also turn yellow. Mildew occurs when there are low nitrogen levels. You can use fungicides to treat and prevent powdery mildew. 

Bonide Fungicide Spray is a great product, and it’s safe for vegetables like beets. Not only does it prevent powdery mildew but also anthracnose, botrytis blights, and black spot, among other diseases.

Beet Leaves Are Drying Up

If your beet leaves have dried up, the most likely cause would be malnutrition. Your plants might also have stunted growth and fewer leaves. The first thing to do is check to ensure the soil levels have a proper pH balance of 6.0 to 7.0. 

It might also be a lack of boron that is causing the dryness. But dried beet leaves can also be a problem due to improper watering, weather changes, or overfertilization. Strong winds can burn the edges of your beets, causing dried out leaves. 

Beet Leaves Have Spots

Many people notice spots growing on their beet leaves. Different colored spots mean various issues. Some spots may appear small and flat while others are raised bumps that create lesions. Let’s review a few common types of colored spots you might encounter and what they mean.

Beet Leaves Have Brown Spots

If your beet leaves have a case of brown spots, it could be that you’re dealing with beet leaf miners, a type of insect commonly found on beets. While these pests won’t kill your crop, you won’t be able to eat the damaged leaves. Once you have an infestation, your plants will continue to be destroyed until you treat with an insecticide. 

Bacterial blight can also be causing the spots. Your beet leaves will have various spots with black borders and tan or brown centers. Infected parts of the foliage might fall off, causing the leaves to be jagged and torn. This condition occurs when the bacteria is passed through water from infected plants to healthy plants, spreading the disease. 

A condition called Scab, caused by planting beets in the same location as potatoes, can cause small brown spots on the leaves. As these spots grow, they cause injury to the leaves. You may also notice gray, white, or tan knots on the roots. 

Beet western yellow virus is a condition that causes leaves to turn yellow and develop reddish-brown spots. Over time, the leaves become brittle and thick and unappetizing to consume. Aphids transfer this condition, so you want to use an insecticide or natural remedy to keep these pests from your plants. 

Cercospora leaf spot is another disease that causes brown blotches on your beet leaves. The color will vary from brown to gray with red or purple borders. The leaves of infected plants will become yellow or brown and start to die. Using fungicide and rotating crops every two to three years treats and prevents this disease.

Beet Leaves Have Black Spots

If you notice black spots on your beet leaves, it could be stromata. These are tiny specks that are close together to make a large patch. In warm, wet weather, stromata grow silver or gray spores, much like hair or fur. 

Stromata is produced by the same pathogen that causes Cercospora leaf spot, which creates small brown dots on the leaves. Stromata lesions grow on the leaves, petioles, seed pods, and seeds, and roots. 

Beet Leaves Have Red Spots

A disease called Rust can cause red or brown spots to appear on your beet leaves. This condition occurs during colder, wet seasons, with temperatures between 59°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C). 

These spots can be on the leaves, petioles, and stalks. And it can cause the leaves to be inedible in severe cases. But prevention is possible using a fungicide. 

Final Thoughts

We’ve discussed all the problems you might encounter when trying to grow beets, from disease, insects, or disfigurement. You’re now armed with all the knowledge you need to know to grow healthy, delicious beets. Happy growing. 

Related Articles

Top Problems Growing Peas and How to Fix It

Top Problems Growing Asparagus and How to Fix It