WSU Extension


Pea : Seed rot and damping-off
(revision date: 5/19/2015)

Several soil-borne fungi can cause seed rots and damping-off of pea seedlings. 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 or brown to black 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 (when possible).
  • Do not overwater.
  • Do not plant in soils known to be infested with damping-off fungi.
  • Mulch to help raise soil temperature.
  • Plant shallowly to encourage quick seedling emergence and growth.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Copper fungicides are labeled for application to the soil surface in the plant bed after emergence of seedlings. Follow label instructions.

Listed below are examples of pesticides that are legal in Washington. Always read and follow all label directions.
  • Bonide Copper Fungicide Spray or Dust RTU [Organic]
    Active ingredient: basic copper sulfate  |  EPA reg no: 4-58
  • This list may not include all products registered for this use.
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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