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IPFS News Link • Agriculture

How to Prevent Damping Off Disease in Your Seedlings

•, Amy Allen

You're seeing lovely green sprouts in the pots and are very excited, taking the best care of them you know how. Then one day, soon after sprout, your seedlings are lying on the potting medium. No obvious explanation, no warning. Just lying there dying. Chances are you're experiencing damping off disease. 

So what exactly is damping off disease?

According to the University of Minnesota, it's a disease of young seedlings that's actually pretty common and affects a wide variety of vegetables. Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, and Pythium are the most common pathogens. According to their webpage, symptoms are: 

Seedlings fail to emerge from the soil.

Cotyledons (the first leaves produced by a seedling) and seedling stems are water-soaked, soft, mushy, and may be discolored gray to brown.
Seedling stems become water-soaked and thin, almost thread-like, where infected.
Young leaves wilt and turn green-gray to brown.

Roots are absent, stunted or have grayish-brown sunken spots.
Fluffy white cobweb-like growth on infected plant parts under high humidity.
As I've noted in the introduction, I've seen seedlings simply tip over and die. And there's no saving them. This disease is vicious and can kill off entire trays of seedlings.