Pacific Pests and Pathogens Pacific Pests & Pathogens - Full Size Fact Sheets

Cabbage black rot (131) Print Fact Sheet

Common Name

Brassica black rot, black rot of cabbage

Scientific Name

Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris


Worldwide. In temperate and tropical countries. Asia, Africa, North, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, Oceania. The disease has been recorded in American Samoa (cabbage), Australia (cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts), Cook Islands (cabbage), Fiji (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), Papua New Guinea (cabbage, Broccoli, turnip, mustard), Samoa (cabbage, Chinese cabbage), and Tonga (cabbage).


Members of the cabbage (brassica) family, e.g., broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, radish.

Symptoms & Life Cycle

The disease is caused by bacteria which enter natural opening at the leaf margin when water is forced out at night and drawn back in the day. Characteristic, brown V-shaped areas of rot develop with yellow borders (Photos 1-3). The bacteria move rapidly in the veins, which turn black, and soon the entire leaf turns yellow, rots and collapses. Other leaves are destroyed in the same way. Later, the bacteria enter the leaves of the head and that rots too. A sticky yellow ooze develops when the infected veins are cut. The disease also affects seedlings in the nursery either through the leaves or through injuries made by insects.

Spread of the diseases onto surrounding plants occurs when water droplets containing bacteria are splashed or blown in the wind during periods of rain, or in overhead irrigation. The bacteria can survive on leaf surfaces for several days. Spread over longer distances occurs in infected nursery plants or in seed. Soil containing the black rot bacterium can be spread on machinery and footwear. It can also be spread on insects.

Survival of the bacteria occurs in crop remains until it becomes completely decomposed, and in seed. The bacteria also survive on weeds and crop plants without showing symptoms.


Cabbage black rot is especially serious in the hot, rainy season, November to April, in Pacific island countries. Losses at this time can be high. For the disease to develop, the leaves need to stay wet for a long time. The damage is often made worse by soft-rotting organisms that follow the invasion of the leaves by the black rot bacterium.

Detection & Inspection

Look for dry, brown, V-shaped areas with black veins at the margin of older leaves; this is a characteristic symptom of this disease.



Before planting:

During growth:

After harvest:

Cabbage, Chinese cabbage, mustard and turnip are susceptible, broccoli and Brussels sprouts less so, and radish is quite resistant.

Chemical control is not recommended for this disease where cabbages (and other brassicas) are grown for household use. Where they are grown for sale, it is recommended that copper fungicides be used as preventative sprays in nurseries. Spraying of plants in the field is not recommended.

AUTHOR Grahame Jackson
Information (and Photo 1) is from Diseases of vegetable crops in Australia (2010). Editors, Denis Persley, Tony Cooke, Susan House. CSIRO Publishing. Photo 2 David B. Langston, University of Georgia,

Produced with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research under project PC/2010/090: Strengthening integrated crop management research in the Pacific Islands in support of sustainable intensification of high-value crop production, implemented by the University of Queensland and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

This fact sheet is a part of the app Pacific Pests and Pathogens

The mobile application is available from the Google Play Store and Apple iTunes.

Pacific Pests and Pathogens Android Edition      Pacific Pests and Pathogens iOS Edition            Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research