Pacific Pests, Pathogens and Weeds - Online edition

Pacific Pests, Pathogens, Weeds & Pesticides

Damping-off (047)

Click/tap on images to enlarge
  • Worldwide distribution. On many kinds of fruit and vegetable seedlings in the nursery, with beans, cabbage, carrot, lettuce, onion, and tomato especially susceptible. Important diseases.
  • Mostly caused by soil fungi and water moulds, oomycetes. Damping-off is of two kinds: (i) death before emergence; and (ii) death after emergence.
  • Spread in water splash, on tools, and in potting mixes.
  • Cultural control: nursery hygiene: pasteurise soil or soilless mixes, monitor; if outbreaks in seed beds, move to different sites; do not use pond or stream water; do not over-water; ensure boxes have good drainage; avoid soil splash: raise seed boxes above ground (>1 m) to avoid rain splash.
  • Chemical control: seed – captan, thiram, or mancozeb. Treat seed boxes with 1% bleach for 5 min, then rinse.
Common Name


Scientific Name

Commonly, Pythium and Rhizoctonia are involved, but Fusarium and Phytophthora may also cause similar diseases. Note, Pythium and Phytophthora are not fungi but water moulds or oomycetes, related to algae.

AUTHORS Helen Tsatsia & Grahame Jackson
Information from Grabowski M (2018) How to prevent seedling damping-off. University of Minnesota Extension. (; and DAF (2014) Damping off. Queensland Government. (; and from Damping off. RHS. (

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.

Copyright © 2022. All rights reserved.