Beet Leaves Turning Brown and Dying | Beet Troubleshooting

Beets Growing in the Garden

Nothing beats growing beets in the garden. They are known to be resistant to both warm and cooler temperatures and will also grow in almost any kind of soil, thus making them an easy crop for beginner gardeners.  Like all plants, however, beets are susceptible to their fair share of issues.

So why are my beet leaves turning brown? Beet leaves turning brown is typically the product of a disease or virus affecting the beet plant. When plants come under stress from a disease or virus, a common symptom is the brown or yellowing of its leaves. The nutrients are exiting the leaves, giving them that infamous light brown or yellow mottling.

The health of the beet leaves directly affects the health of your beetroots. Therefore it is essential to diagnose what kind of disease or virus is causing your beet leaves to turn brown. There is a handful of diseases that can be causing your beet leaves to turn brown and die off.

Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium Wilt is a disease that affects a variety of plants that include tomatoes, sunflowers, lilacs, and maple trees to name a few. The disease is caused by soil borne fungi. The fungi start by invading the roots of the plant.

Once the fungi are in the roots, they plug themselves in the plant nutrients and water. They then enter the sap pathways. As a result, the plant starts to wilt, and eventually, the plant dies prematurely. Verticillium Wilt is most prevalent in the cool spring temperatures.

The first sign of Verticillium Wilt will appear on your beet leaves. The leaves will change from yellow to brown, and then they will droop. Verticillium Wilt can also be spread into the plant through the branches or trunk.

Treating Verticillium Wilt

Treating Verticillium Wilt can be difficult. But it is not impossible. First, remove any of the beets that are affected by the Verticillium Wilt. You should prune any of the leaves and branches that appear to be affected by the disease.

After pruning, ensure that you have disposed of the plants immediately. Do not turn the infected plants into compost. Also, while pruning, remember to disinfect your equipment after the pruning process as verticillium wilt can spread to other plants via the debris left on the tools you use to prune the plant.

Another method that you can use to control the disease is through the use of fungicides. You can seek the help of a professional who can fumigate your soil. Or, you can buy the fungicide and do the work yourself.

If you live in a warm region, you can also use plastic covered soil. The soil will reach high temperatures that will discourage the growth of fungi. However, check with your county extension agent to see if this practice will be helpful.

Preventing Verticillium Wilt

Different methods can be used to avoid the growth of Verticillium Wilt. Once the disease has found its way into your garden, it can linger in the soil for many years. Therefore, start by not planting the same crop in your garden for more than a few years in a row.

Take at least four years before you plant the same crop, especially if your soil is already affected. Second, remove any weeds and plant debris that are affected by the Verticillium Wilt. This will reduce the probability of the disease spreading to other parts of your garden.

Third, do not overwater your beets. Remember, Verticillium Wilt thrives in cool, moist environments. Therefore, leaving your beets with excess water will create a conducive environment for the disease to grow.

Lastly and probably the best preventative measure is to plant beet variants that are more resistant to Verticillium Wilt. This will minimize the chance of your beet plants getting infected with Verticillium Wilt in the first place.

Beet Mosaic Virus

Mosaic Virus

There is another possible answer to the question: why are my beet leaves turning brown? The reason is the Mosaic Virus. Once your beet has the mosaic virus, the leaves will start to develop yellow or white mottling. This disease also affects other plants like spinach and Swiss chard. But unlike other diseases, the mosaic virus on the beets has less severe symptoms and effects.

The first signs of the mosaic virus will appear on the younger leaves of your beet plant. The infection will cause these leaves to run yellow or pale along the leaf veins. Therefore, during the early stages, you will notice the symptoms on the tips of the leaves.

In later stages, the symptoms start to spread to the base of the leaves, and eventually, the entire leaf becomes covered in mottling. In some leaves, discolored rings will appear, and finally, the foliage will fall off.

The mosaic virus is commonly spread by pests such as leafhoppers, cucumber beetles, aphids and whiteflies. Also, if the mosaic virus infects your seed, soil, or starter pot, it will quickly spread the infection to your plant.

Treating Beet Mosaic Virus

There is no cure for mosaic virus infection. Once your plant is infected, there is nothing you can do to control it. However, you can prevent the infection from entering your garden in the first place. You can also prevent the disease from affecting your other plants.

Preventing Beet Mosaic Virus

Once you notice the presence of the mosaic virus on your beets, the first thing that you should do is check whether you have pests such as aphids on your plants. Unlike treating the virus, you can manage the plants to control the existence of the pests.

Start by identifying the pest that is on your plant. Then use pest traps to kill the bugs. You can mix water with soap to make a dish soap solution and spray it on the plants to get rid of the pests. 

Another option is to release natural pest predators to your garden. Or use spot treatment options that are also not toxic like neem oil to reduce the number of pests on your garden. To prevent the infection of the mosaic virus on your beets, consider planting the beets in late spring.

Most of the virus-carrying pests will not be present in late spring. In case the mosaic virus appears in your garden, prevent reoccurrence by cleaning your garden during the fall season. Do this by removing any beet, spinach, or Swiss chard residue.

Then, avoid planting these plants until the disease is completely eliminated. Do not use fungicides since they will not treat the viral disease.

Cercospora Leaf Spot

Cercospora Leaf Spot

Sometimes you will plant your beets, and the plant will signs of develop Cercospora Leaf Spot. Cercospora Leaf Spot is a disease that is caused by a fungus known as cerecospora beticola. It is common in beets, spinach, and Swiss chard.

Cercospora Leaf Spot is prevalent in the late summer when there are high temperatures, longleaf wetness at night, and high humidity. The first sign of Cercospora Leaf Spot is small, brown, circular spots on the leaves of the beet plant.

These spots have a red margin with an off white or pale brown center. The lesions then continue to expand in size and turn gray. Severe cases can result in the loss of your beet foliage. Usually, the disease starts to spread from the outside leaves.

The leaves at the center are the last to get infected. When the disease becomes severe, the beets will not grow fully since the roots will fail.

Treating Cercospora Leaf Spot

To treat the Cercospora Leaf Spot, remove any leaves that are infected and dispose of them properly. After removing the infected plants, use fungicides to treat the Cercospora Leaf Spot.

It is crucial to know how long you should wait before harvesting your beets after using the fungicides. Also, use different types of fungicides each time. Some Cercospora Leaf Spot strains are resistant to certain fungicides.

Preventing Cercospora Leaf Spot

Cercospora Leaf Spot can survive in the soil for up to two years. Therefore, if you have had infected crops in your garden, start by removing any weeds or plant debris from the infected plants. After infection, plant crops that are not hosts to Cercospora Leaf Spot for three years before planting beets in the same area of your garden.

When planting your beets, use seeds that are free from the disease. You can treat your seeds with hot water or fungicides to kill the disease. Avoid getting moisture on leaves when watering. Overhead irrigation can leave excessive moisture on the plant.

This can encourage the regrowth of the Cercospora Leaf Spot fungus. Hence, water your beets during the day when the leaves can dry adequately. Also, improving the air circulation in your garden can help in prevention of the fungus.

Related Questions

Why are my beet leaves turning white? Depending on whether the white on your beets is powdery or bleach-like, the cause of the white could be powdery mildew or water spots, respectively. The water spots are a result of overhead watering. The powdery mildew is a disease that can be treated with neem oil or fungicides.


Why are my beet leaves wilting? Your beets will wilt if they are exposed to a disease or an insect infestation. Insects that can cause your beet leaves to wilt include flea beetles, leafhoppers, and aphids. Diseases that can cause your beet leaves to wilt include Verticillium Wilt, root rot complex, curly top disease, damping off, and root and crown rot.


How long does it take for beets to grow? Beets usually take between 45 and 65 days until they are ready for harvest.

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