Diagnosing beet western yellow virus in canola

Beet western yellows virus (BWYV) that has been renamed Turnip Yellows virus (TuYV) is an aphid-borne virus that causes yield and quality losses in canola.  It also infects other crop and pasture species including mustard, chickpea, faba bean, field pea, lucerne, medic and subterranean clover.

Stunted plant with thickened leaves and reddened margins
Often found in thin crop or edges
Discolouration moves in from edges and resembles N or P deficiency
Late infected plants have leaf symptoms but little yield effect

With early infection yield losses can be up to 50 per cent. For every one per cent increase in the level of BWYV in a canola crop there is a 6-12 kg/ha decline in yield resulting from formation of fewer seeds. In addition to yield losses, BWYV infection diminishes seed quality by decreasing oil content and increasing erucic acid levels. If the crop is infected late, yield and quality losses are minimal.

What to look for

    Paddock

  • Symptoms can be inconsistent for TuYV and ‘symptomless’ infection may occur that still causes losses.
  • Under certain conditions, discoloured and stunted plants that occur in patches, in thinner crop areas or the edge of the paddock, and gradually spread.

    Plant

  • First signs are red, yellow or purple colours at the ends or edges of older leaves, then yellowing in the middle of the leaf.
  • Colours are more intense between leaf veins and on the upper side of the leaf.
  • Petioles and leaf veins are green or pale.
  • Discoloured leaves become thickened and may cup inwards.
  • Infected are often stunted and pale, and produce few flowers or seeds.
  • Late infected plants show leaf symptoms but are not stunted and have lower yield loss.

What else could it be

Condition Similarities Differences
Diagnosing nitrogen deficiency in canola Purple red colours spreading down from the ends of oldest leaves However nitrogen deficient plants are smaller and thinner rather than stunted. Paddock distribution varies according to soil type rather than in patches or edges.
Diagnosing Group A herbicide damage in canola Reddish mottling of older leaves However herbicide damage causes discolouration and distortion of emerging leaves, and multiple growing points
Diagnosing glyphosate damage in canola Reddish mottling of older leaves However herbicide damage causes discolouration and distortion of emerging leaves, and multiple growing points

Where did it come from?

Green bridge
Green bridge
Insect vector
Insect vector
  • TuYV is regularly found in high and medium rainfall grainbelt zones but can also occur in low rainfall zones.
  • It is not seed-borne, but survives in weeds or volunteer canola host plants outside the growing season and is spread from these infected plants into crops by aphids which act as vectors for virus transmission.
  • The main source of TuYV for canola crops is infected wild radish weeds growing along fence lines and road verges or volunteer canola. Other weed hosts include wild melon, fleabane, stinkweed, soursob, marshmallow and blackberry nightshade. It also persists year-round in infected lucerne pastures and some native legume species.
  • It also infects other crop and pasture species including mustard, chickpea, lupin, lentil, faba bean, field pea, lucerne, medic and subterranean clover.
  • Green peach aphid is the principle vector for early, damaging spread, but cabbage aphid acts as a minor vector in late infections.
  • TuYV is transmitted persistently. When an aphid feeds on an infected plant it acquires the virus permanently. When the infective aphid then probes the phloem of a healthy plant it infects the plant and continues transmitting TuYV for the rest of its life.
  • Autumn is the most critical infection period, so the earliest-sown crops are most vulnerable when conditions for autumn aphid activity is conducive.
  • Infections can occur past the rosette stage of canola growth but these probably have little effect on yield

Management strategies

Grass pasture control
Grass pasture control
Stubble management
Stubble management
  • Surveillance for viruliferous aphids using yellow sticky trap
  • Control broadleaf weeds (especially over summer) as they act as reservoirs for the viruses
  • Retain stubble at sowing to cover the ground, this reduces the ability of aphids to land on young canola plants thereby reducing virus spread.
  • Manipulate sowing dates. Delay sowing to avoid exposure of young canola seedlings to peak aphid flights.
  • Sow at high seeding rates. High plant density helps diminish the rate of virus spread and speeds up canopy closure resulting in lower aphid landing rates.
  • Use insecticide seed treatment. Neonicotinoid seed treatment applied effectively can provide early control of green peach aphid vectors during the vulnerable seedling growth stage. However to achieve effective control it is important to ensure that sufficient insecticide coats each seed.
  • Consult the web-based forecasting and decision support system for BWYV in canola.

How can it be monitored?

  • Check for aphids (usually under leaves) before rosette stage.

Where to go for expert help

Brenda Coutts
+61 (0)8 9368 3266
DDLS Seed Testing and Certification
+61 (0)8 9368 3721
Page last updated: Monday, 30 March 2020 - 11:49am