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Diseases Associated with Seed Germination

The environment for seed propagation is quite suitable to the development of pathogenic organisms, especially fungi. Warm temperatures, readily available moisture and young, succulent plant tissues can often result in devastating losses due to disease. Damping-off is a term used to describe the rapid death of germinating seeds and young seedlings and is characterized by stem necrosis at the soil surface. Several fungal organisms cause damping-off including Pythium ultimum, Rhizoctonia solani, Botrytis cinerea and Phytophthora spp. These are usually soil-borne organisms; however, infected plant tissues and seeds may also contribute to the spread of damping-off problems. Control measures for damping-off include the complete elimination of viable pathogenic organisms from the germination environment, heat pasteurization or fumigation of germination media and careful control of the environment around germinating seeds.

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