The Q&A Archives: Rutabaga Problem

Question: I had planted some rutabaga in a raised bed. Everything seemed to be going fine until today. I noticed that the leaves had a gray ash-like deposit on them, plus very small gray rice shaped pellets on them. It was all over the leaves, especially on the underside. I pulled out all of the plants that I had, unfortunately. I just wondering what this is and what to do to prevent it in the future? I really hated to pull out those plants, but I didn't think it was a good idea to leave them.

Thanks for any help you can give.

Answer: Rutabagas are subject to the same insect pests as plants in the cabbage family, which can include aphids and loopers. Without seeing the problem first hand, I can only suggest that a new colony of aphids and a new generation of caterpillars found the leaves of your rutabagas. If you find similar problems on your next crop of rutabagas, try hosing the pests off the leaves. If they return, wash them off again. Since you're really only interested in eating the roots, some insect damage on the leaves won't harm the crop.

Better luck with your next crop!

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