Seedling Damping Off

Pythium spp.

Turf Diseases

Susceptible Turf

All turf species at seedling stage


  • Damping Off appears as blighted seedlings.
  • Individual seedlings are stunted with water soaked leaves.
  • Seedlings collapse and die, causing circular or irregular patches.
  • Patches are water-soaked and dark-coloured early in the morning, they may appear slimy.
  • In the morning on dew covered grass white masses of fungal mycelium (cottony blight) may appear.
  • Infected leaves become light brown and shriveled when dry.
  • Dead turf may mat together like paper-maché and can coalesce to form a crust over the surface of the soil.

Conditions Favouring Disease

  • Damping Off outbreaks favour high temperatures and humidity.
  • Warm nights (over 20°C) and hot days (over 30°C) and high humidity (over 90%) combined with wet weather.
  • More than 10 hours a day of foliar wetness for several consecutive days.
  • Dense seeding preventing moisture escape from the soil.
  • Highly fertilised turf (excess nitrogen) is more susceptible.

Management Tips

  • Avoid mowing wet turf when the temperature is over 21°C to minimize spreading the disease.
  • Seed at a sufficiently low rate to create a seedling stand which will allow moisture to escape.
  • Sow seed with optimum germination and establishment conditions for that turf species.
  • Pre-germinate seed before sowing.
  • Supply adequate phosphorus and potassium for seedling development.
  • Increase air circulation to speed the drying process of the turf.
  • Minimise the amount of shade.
  • Irrigate turf early in the day, avoid late-day watering.
  • Improve the drainage of the turf.
  • Irrigate turf deeply and as infrequently as possible.

General Comments

There are many species of Pythium known to cause damage to turfgrass and symptoms are equally diverse.