- Onion

Onion Onion

Stemphylium Leaf Blight of Onion


Pleospora allii

In a Nutshell

  • Small, water-soaked, white to light yellow spots on leaves.
  • Over time, sunken, elongated, brown blotches with tan to brown centers form.
  • Large necrotic areas cause extensive blighting of the tissues.
 - Onion

Onion Onion


Early symptoms include small, water-soaked, white to light yellow spots on leaves. Typically, these lesions are found in higher numbers on the side of leaves facing the prevailing wind. Over time, these small lesions grow along the leaf blade and coalesce into sunken, oval-shaped or elongated, brown blotches, with tan to brown centers. Concentric zones may also develop in their center. In advanced stages, large necrotic areas form, which may girdle the leaf or seed stem, causing extensive blighting of the tissues.

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Stemphylium leaf blight is caused by the fungus Pleospora allii, formerly known as Stemphylium vesicarium, thereby the name of the disease. It survives on infected plant debris and resumes growth during favorable weather conditions in spring. It then produces spores that are spread to nearby plants by the wind. It normally invades dead and dying onion tissue, such as leaf tips, lesions caused by previous diseases, or simply injured tissue (from e.g. insects or hail). Long periods of warm wet conditions encourage disease development. Healthy leaves can thus also be attacked if the weather is warm (18 - 25 °C) and the leaf surface is wet for more than 24 hours. Infection usually remains restricted to leaves and does not affect the bulb. Older leaves are more susceptible than young ones.

Organic Control

Aqueous extracts of Azadirachta indica (Neem) and Datura stramonium ( jimsonweed) can be used for the biocontrol of Stemphylium leaf blight disease with an efficacy close to that of conventional fungicides. Under greenhouse conditions, the preventive or curative application of products based on Trichoderma harzianum and Stachybotrys chartarum results in the reduction of disease incidence and severity (around 70% in both cases).

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated approach of both preventive measures and biological treatments if available. Solution of the active ingredients azoxystrobin + difenoconazole, boscalid + pyraclostrobin, chlorothalonil, iprodione, mancozeb and prochloraz are highly effective at reducing the growth in S. vesicarium. Treatments should be done when conditions are unfavorable for the fungus (cool and dry weather). In general, the effectiveness of the fungicides was enhanced with an alternation of products.

Preventive Measures

  • Select resistant varieties (several are available).
  • Sow rows of plants in the direction of the prevailing wind to avoid long periods of leaf wetness.
  • Reduce plant density to have a good airflow.
  • Ensure adequate field drainage before planting.
  • Avoid excessive nitrogen applications which can increase disease severity.
  • Remove and bury plant debris and culls through cultivation after harvest.
  • Use crop rotation for a period of 3-4 years.

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