Damping-off is usually caused by the fungal pathogen Pythium and other root rot diseases are caused by Phytophthora, Fusarium and Rhizoctonia spp.

What to Look For

Wet soils close to seeding can cause poor crop establishment due to pre-emergence seed rotting. The rotted seeds that are recovered are often found inside small balls of soil and have a most unpleasant smell.

Affected seedlings gradually turn yellow and leaves droop. The plants usually do not collapse. The tap root may become quite brittle and when plants are pulled from the ground the lower portion of the root is dark, shows signs of rotting and may lack lateral roots. Distinct brown to black lesions may be visible on the tap root. The leaves and stems of affected plants are usually straw coloured, but may turn brown. Older plants dry off prematurely and are often scattered across a paddock.

Disease Cycle

All these fungi are soil dwellers. They survive from crop to crop in the soil either as resting spores or on plant debris. In wet soils these fungi can invade plant roots and cause root rot. Wet conditions encourage the spread within a paddock. Damping-off is mainly a problem in kabuli chickpeas and affects the crop at emergence and in some cases the seed may rot before they emerge.


Key management practices are to use seed dressings and avoid susceptible varieties; (Refer to Table 5.2. Chickpea variety disease reactions).

Other helpful practices are to avoid poorly drained soils and use of crop rotations.

Further Information

More detailed information can be obtained from the DEDJTR AgNotes Series www.vic.gov.au/graindiseases

Victorian Pulse Diseases Guide www.vic.gov.au/pulsediseaseguide

Victorian Winter Crop Summary www.vic.gov.au/victorianwintercropsummary

Seed Testing in Pulse Crops (AG1250) www.vic.gov.au/seedtestingpulsecrops

Pulse Seed Treatments and Foliar Fungicides http://www.pulseaus.com.au/storage/app/media/crops/2011_ APB-Pulse-seed-treatments-foliar-fungicides.pdf

Pulse Australia www.pulseaus.com.au


Chickpea disease reaction tables/guides