Diseases and Pests


Cercospora leaf spot disease is a fungal disease. It is caused by the pathogen Cercospora beticola Sacc.. Cercospora is the leaf disease of sugar beet with the highest impact worldwide. High moisture and warm weather are favouring the spreading of these leaf spots. 

further information about Cercospora ...

The fungi Cercospora survives in leaf debris in the soil. The sclerotia-like mycelium can survive for up to two years and forms conidia in spring, which can trigger the initial infection.  

Typically, dark conidiophores with clear conidia (spores) can be seen inside the leaf spots as light gray. These are the structures the fungus uses for spreading. They are spreading by wind or water within the population. During the infection, the germ tube formed out of the fungal spores, penetrates the stomata of the leaf cells. The fungus continues to grow into the tissue. The fungal hyphae make their way between the cells. With the help of haustoria, they tap into the cells. The cell liquid supplies the fungus with nutrients. In the process, also toxins are released by the fungus, plant cells die and the leaf tissue becomes necrotic. The inner area of ​​the Cercospora spot is enclosed by a dark red to brown ring. (Graph) 

Conidia formation and infection by the fungus find the most beneficial conditions in warm and humid weather: temperatures between 25 and 30 ° C and a humidity of 100% are optimal. However, growth and spread are also possible between 6 to 35 ° C with a humidity> 91%. 

Depending on climatic requirements, the disease occurs regularly in the south and south-west of Germany, preferably in the river plains (e.g. Danube, Rhine). In other regions, a stronger infection can be detected in warmer years or in specific areas whose microclimate favour the development of the fungus. 


The Ramularia leaf spot is also a fungal disease. Ramularia occurs less often in Germany.


further information about Ramularia ...

The Ramularia beticola Fautr. et Lamb causes the Ramularia leaf spots. The Ramularia leaf spots can be confused with Cercospora leaf spots. However, Ramularia spots are larger and lighter. The definite distinguishing feature is the color of the conidiophores, which are visible as dots in the leaf spot: a Ramularia spot has light conidiophores, in contrast to the dark conidiophores of the Cercospora spots. The temperature and humidity optimum for the development of Ramularia is lower than for Cercospora. Temperatures between 16 and 20 ° C and a humidity of 70% are favourable for the occurrence of Ramularia. 

In Germany, the disease occurs more often in autumn, when Cercospora and Ramularia can also occur on the same leaf at the same time. However, also mixed infections of Cercospora, Ramularia, powdery mildew and rust can be observed frequently in this time. 


Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease. The pathogen is the fungus Erysiphe betae. The fungus is observed in all sugar beet growing regions around the world. It is of particular importance in areas with dry and warm climates.


more information on powdery mildew ...

Powdery mildew, Erysiphe betae, forms a mycelium only on the leaf surface with gray-white conidia. Hyphae penetrate the epidermal cells and attach the mycelium on the leaf with the help of haustoria. The fungus supplies itself with nutrients from the haustoria. (Diagram) The mycelium is initially perceived as a spider web- like structure on the leaf surface resulting in a powder-like covering which is looking like flour. The white gray covering can be washed off. The conidia of the fungus are spread by wind. 

In contrast to Cercospora, powdery mildew does not lead to the death of cells and tissue. Loss of yield is caused by its parasitic way of life.

And then again in comparison to Cercospora, the occurrence and spread of powdery mildew is favoured by warm, but dry weather. Powdery mildew infestation can cause yield losses that are as high as those with Cercospora leaf spots. An early infestation in July must be treated according to the threshold of infection. The plants should be checked by the end of August. 

Beet rust

Beet rust is a fungal disease. It is caused by the pathogen Uromyces betae. Beet rust is rarely seen in sugar beet in Germany. As a rule, it then appears from early autumn. Sometimes there is an early infestation in July. Its special weather requirements limit or promote its appearance and spread greatly. This can lead to noticeable "rusty years" in beet cultivation.

further information on beet rust ...

The fungus survives with the help of "winter spores" on leaf debris, which are in the soil from the last year. In spring, these "winter spores" - the teleutospores - germinate and create basidiospores that infect the beet plants. There is no change of host. Also spore beds (aecidia) can form on the underside of the leaves. The aecidiospores produced in it germinate and produce the clearly visible rust-red pustules on the beet leaves. Here the uredospores "summer spores" are produced. When the pustules burst, the spores emerge like red- rust dust. High humidity and temperatures between 10 and 22 ° Celsius are ideal for their development. Higher temperatures are counterproductive. In autumn the darker teleutospores "winter spores" are produced from the uredospores and the cycle continues.  

 Rust spots are relatively often found in beets in autumn, mostly mixed with powdery mildew or ramularia. The harmful effect is then usually negligible. The spores are spread by the wind, but rainfall also spreads the disease in the population. 


The "Syndrom basse richesse" (SBR) is referred to the syndrome of low sugar. The disease is transmitted by Pentastiridius leporinus (leaf hopper) by transferring a bacterial pathogen complex into the plants. The yield losses can be very significant. 


further information about SBR ...

SBR was first observed in Burgundy, France, in 1990. The disease made its way through Switzerland to southern Germany. The carrier of the bacterial disease is the reed leaf cicada. If the sugar beets have been infected with the bacterial pathogen complex (a proteobacterium and a phytoplasm), the pathogens multiply and block the vascular system of the plants. The nutrient balance is disturbed. Chlorosis forms on the leaves and as the infection proceeds, the leaves are dying. The new growing leaves cost the sugar beet a lot of energy, which is gained by the stored sugar. 


  • Leaf chlorosis (yellow leaves, yellowing) 
  • Leaf necrosis (death of leaf tissue) 
  • Whole leaves are dying 
  • Browning of the vascular bundle rings in root 
  • New growing of lanceolate leaves
  • Losses in sugar content of up to 5% absolute 
  • Reduction of the yield 

Control options:

  • Insecticides: They are not a solution because the efficiency is less than 50 percent.
  • Interruption of the development cycle / crop rotation: The cicadas normally develop in winter wheat and from there fly into the sugar beet fields. A changed crop rotation with winter rye instead of winter wheat could, according to French studies, minimize the infestation by 30 percent.
  • Tolerant varieties: In screenings and in field trials with various approved sugar beet varieties, differences in their susceptibility to SBR were found. Some varieties showed a tolerant behavior towards the disease, so that a targeted selection of tolerant genotypes is promising in the future.

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