Science Into Practice - Combating damping-off in spinach crops

Damping-off was identified as a major problem on UK baby-leaf spinach in late summer 2008. Crops were affected mainly at the cotyledon stage and at canopy closure. In some cases losses were severe, with one grower losing a whole planting of a particular variety. Problems were less severe in 2009, following a largely dry season, but growers remain concerned that management options are limited.

HDC project FV 369 aims to provide a clearer understanding of the factors that can contribute to outbreaks of spinach damping-off and to evaluate management practices. The work focuses on which pathogens are causing damping-off in the UK, understanding what factors affect the disease and information on the efficacy of fungicide treatments.

First-year results show that the disease occurred more frequently later in the season and where heavy rain had occurred. The main pathogens found were Pythium and Fusarium species but other pathogens could be involved too. The action points for growers are to maintain a record of the spinach cultivars that are particularly susceptible to damping-off and to ensure that the cropping areas have good drainage. The 2011 annual project report can be found on the HDC website

Dates for your diary

HDC Soft Fruit Panel Meeting East Malling, 21 and 22 September

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HDC Hardy Nursery Stock Panel Meeting London, 27 September

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