Damping-off is mostly a seed-borne disease. Infected seedlings either fail to sprout or if they sprout, they fall over and die soon after emergence. Stems usually have a dark dried portion near the soil line and develop brownish water-soaked lesions. Symptoms may also include browning or rotting of the seed.
Damping-off is mainly an early-season problem, causing greatest losses in plantings in cool, wet soils. Pythium aphanidermatum survives in the soil or on plant residues. Damage is generally limited to areas of compacted soils where drainage is poor. Optimal conditions for the development of the disease are high soil moisture of 90-100 %, high relative humidity and higher soil temperature of about 20°C. It spreads through irrigation water or via infected seedlings.
Bio-fungicides based on the bacteria Bacillus subtilis can be used to control the transmission of the disease.
Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. In fields with histories of damping-off or problems with drainage consider using fungicides preventively. For example, the seeds can be treated either with ceresin or with 1% Bordeaux mixture.
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