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Damping Off

 Damping-off is usually due to species of the soil and water-bourne fungi Phytophthora and Pythium causing individuals to turn pale green/yellow and topple due to tissues at the base of the stem (ground level) withering and blackening.  Seedlings are particularly susceptible to infection pre-emergence and post-emergence, collapsing at ground level. 

Prevent infection by sowing thinly, since the disease is encouraged by overcrowding, and by using good quality compost.  Over-watering can also induce damping-off, so water carefully with clean water, as can compaction causing poor aeration.  Give adequate illumination but not too much heat.  Some Pythium also causes a root rot of mature plants.

Control is by avoiding excess moisture, do not over water seedlings.  Irrigate soil before planting as watering afterwards will pack soil around seeds.  Damping off increases in seeds planted deeper than 2cm and if the soil is cold.
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