What Causes the Leaves of Pepper Plants to Curl Up?

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What Causes the Leaves of Pepper Plants to Curl Up?
Peppers grow best in warm soil. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Peppers come in a wide range of sweet and hot varieties. The warm-season vegetable has low tolerance for cold temperature and frost and prefers well-drained, fertile soil. A viral disease causes plant foliage to start curling.

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Identification

Pepper plants are susceptible to the curly top disease caused by the beet curly top geminivirus or BCTV. The pathogen is transmitted by an insect, the sugarbeet leafhopper. The insects carry the virus from host plants such as Russian thistle.

Damage

The virus retards the growth of plant internodes, causing extremely stunted and short plants. Upper areas of infected plants start to resemble small rosettes. The foliage is light green to yellow and is distinctly curled upward. Peppers on infected plants grow small and upright. Younger infected plants are killed.

Control

There are no disease resistant pepper varieties. Controlling the population of insect carriers is among the best management strategies, as cited by the University of California Extension.

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