The Pro Farmer

Preventing and Treating Damping Off in Seedlings

Damping off is a common fungal disease that affects the germination and growth of seedlings.

It is caused by several types of soil-borne fungi, including Rhizoctonia, Pythium, and Fusarium species.

The disease can occur at any stage of the seedling’s growth, but it is most common during germination and early growth stages.

Damping off typically appears as a water-soaked lesion at the base of the stem, which eventually causes the seedling to collapse and die.

Damping off is most common in cool, wet conditions and in poorly drained soils.

Overcrowding of seedlings, poor air circulation, and overwatering can also contribute to the disease.

Proper sanitation, good cultural practices, and the use of disease-free seeds can help prevent damping off.

There are several ways to prevent and overcome damping off disease in seedlings:

Use disease-free seeds:

Start with high-quality, disease-free seeds.

Choose seeds from reputable sources and avoid using saved seeds from plants that may have been infected with damping off or other diseases.

Good cultural practices:

Ensure that you are providing the proper growing conditions for your seedlings. This includes using a well-draining soil mix, providing adequate air circulation, and avoiding overcrowding of seedlings.

Water properly:

Overwatering can create ideal conditions for damping off to develop.

Water seedlings only when the soil surface is dry to the touch and make sure not to water too heavily. Use a watering can or spray bottle to water gently.

Improve soil drainage:

Ensure that the soil is well-drained and that containers have drainage holes to prevent standing water.

Maintain proper humidity levels:

Keep the humidity levels around the seedlings at a moderate level to prevent excess moisture from building up and causing damping off.

Use fungicides:

Consider using fungicide to prevent damping off.

Fungicides can be applied to the soil before or after planting.

There are several fungicides that can be effective in preventing damping off seedlings or preventing it from spreading to other seedlings.

The specific fungicide that is recommended may depend on the type of fungal pathogen causing the damping off.

Some common fungicides that are effective against damping off are:

Trichoderma-based products:

These are biological fungicide that contain beneficial fungi that compete with the damping off fungi for resources.


This fungicide is highly effective in treating damping off.

This is a systemic fungicide that is absorbed by the plant and moves throughout the plant to protect it from fungal infection.

Metalaxyl works by inhibiting the growth and spread of the fungus that causes damping off.

Metalaxyl is often used as a seed treatment to protect against damping off and other fungal diseases.

Propamocarb hydrochloride:

Propamocarb hydrochloride is a systemic fungicide that is often used in combination with other fungicides to control damping off and other fungal diseases.

It works by inhibiting the growth of fungal cells and preventing the spread of the disease.


This xylem systemic fungicide works by interfering with respiration in plant-pathogenic fungi.

It also prevents any sign or presence of spore germination and mycelial growth that can harm and damage the turf area.

It is best use to control stem, foliar and root diseases in a variety of ornamentals and turf areas.

A combination of Metalaxil and Fluoxastrobin is recomended in the first or second irrigation after planting, according to the dose indicated on the label.

As mentioned previously, using a combination of control methods is often the best approach to preventing and managing damping off and other fungal diseases.

These fungicides can be applied through drip irrigation to control damping off.

This is often called chemigation and is a method of applying chemicals, including fungicides, through irrigation systems.

However, it’s important to note that not all fungicides are suitable for use with drip irrigation, and it’s important to follow label instructions carefully.

Here are some guidelines for applying it through your irrigation system:

Mix the fungicide with water:

Follow the label instructions carefully to mix the correct amount of fungicide with water.

The mixture should be well-mixed and free of any clumps.

Check the drip irrigation system:

Before applying the fungicide, check the drip irrigation system to make sure that it is working properly and that there are no leaks or clogs.

Inject the fungicide into the irrigation system:

Use a chemical injection pump or other appropriate device to inject the fungicide into the irrigation system.

Follow the label instructions carefully for the appropriate injection rate.

Apply the fungicide:

Run the irrigation system for the appropriate length of time to apply the fungicide to the affected area. Follow the label instructions carefully for the appropriate application rate and timing.

Clean the system:

After applying the fungicide, flush the irrigation system thoroughly to remove any remaining fungicide from the system.

Apply at the right time:

Apply the fungicide as soon as symptoms of damping off are observed.

This will help prevent the spread of the disease to other plants.

Repeat applications:

Depending on the severity of the damping off, you may need to repeat the application of fungicide several times to ensure that the disease is under control.

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