WSU Extension


Cucumber, Pumpkin, Squash : Damping-off
(revision date: 6/3/2014)

Damping-off of seeds and seedlings is caused by fungi that remain in the soil for long periods of time. Infected seeds decay without germinating. Seedlings may be infected and fail to emerge from the soil. Emerged seedlings are also attacked, causing them to wilt and topple over. Water-soaked to brownish lesions are often visible on the stem at the soil line. Plants become more resistant to attack as they mature. Damping-off fungi are more of a problem in cold soils with poor drainage, and in conjunction with overwatering.
Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Plant in warm, well-drained soils during warm, dry weather.
  • Mulch soils to increase soil temperature.
  • Do not overwater.
  • Do not plant in soils known to be infested with damping-off fungi.
  • Plant shallowly to encourage quick seedling emergence and growth.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

None recommended

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Caption: Damping-off of cucumber seedlings
Photo by: R.S. Byther
Caption: Damping off of seedlings
Photo by: R.S. Byther
Caption: Damping-off of seedlings
Photo by: R.S. Byther
Caption: Damping off of petunia seedlings
Photo by: R.S. Byther