Root and tuber vegetables

Root and tuber vegetables – an overview:

This page provides an overview of the key pests and diseases of root and tuber vegetables in Australia. The related tools provided at the end of the page can be used by growers and crop consultants to accurately identify the range of pests and diseases encountered in root and tuber vegetables. They include photographs and detailed information about specific pests. For unknown pests, it is important to have an expert identify them so that they can be managed appropriately. Root and tuber vegetables include potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beetroot, sweetpotato and taro. They are members of a number of different vegetable families. A range of insect pests, disease and nematodes can cause economic losses in root and tuber vegetables. Additionally, invertebrate pests such as slugs and snails can be a problem.

Key pests of Root and Tuber Vegetables:


Insect pests


Potatoes Thrips (Melon thrips, Western flower thrips, Onion thrips); Aphids; Potato moth; Whitefly; Beetles; Looper caterpillars; Leafhoppers; Bugs. Armillaria root rot; Bacterial wilt; Black leg; Soft rot; Potato cyst nematode; Root-knot nematode; Late blight; Tomato spotted wilt virus; Potato leaf roll virus; Potato virus Y;Common scab of potatoes; Rhizoctonia; Powdery mildew; Fusarium wilt; Anthracnose.
Carrots Carrot and Vegetable weevil; Caterpillars; Vegetable leafminer. Leaf blight; Sclerotinia; Cavity spot; Damping-off; Root-knot nematode; Carrot virus Y Post harvest diseases: Bacterial soft rot; Black root rot.
Parsnips Vegetable weevils; Aphids; Mites; Cutworms; Caterpillars; Thrips. Leaf spot; Powdery mildew; Canker; Nematodes.
Beetroot Beet webworm; Aphids; Jassids; Vegetable weevil. Cercospora leaf spot; Damping-off; Bacterial blight; Powdery mildew; Black root rot; Root-knot nematodes.
 Sweetpotato Sweetpotato weevil; Whitegrubs; Wireworms; Grasshoppers; Beetles; Leafminer; Aphids; Mites; Silverleaf whitefly. Sweetpotato little leaf disease; Sweetpotato feathery mottle virus; Root-knot nematodes; Scab; Alternaria; Cercospora leaf spots.
Taro Cluster caterpillars.  Erwinia soft rot; Shot hole leaf disease.

Pest management:

Control of pests (including insect pests, diseases and nematodes) in root and tuber vegetables can be achieved using a combination of biological, cultural, and chemical methods. Before planting review paddock history and identify which pests have caused the most damage in the past (particularly soil-borne ones). Ensure weeds that may harbour pests, including viruses are removed. Crop rotation is important for root and tuber vegetables, as is soil preparation and irrigation management. Plant certified seed and use varieties that are less susceptible to disease. Regular crop monitoring will allow any pest problems to be identified and managed when they reach a critical level. Good farm hygiene, including in the packing shed, should be practiced.

Source of information and related tools: