Best Ways to Control and Prevent Wilt of Black Pepper (caused by Phytophthora capsici)

Black pepper is one of the most profitable spices popular among farmers in South India. That’s why it is also known as king of spices or black gold. It’s not an exaggeration because the demand for black pepper has consistently grown year on year.

Let’s look at some of the best practices and tips to control and prevent some common diseases that can destroy the growth of black pepper. Here, we will focus on 2 of the most detrimental types:

  • Quick wilt

  • Slow wilt

1. Quick Wilt (Phytophthora foot rot)

Wilt is caused by the plant pathogen Phytophthora capsici. These are soil borne and inseparable in the natural ecosystem in majority of the cases. It is important to suppress these pathogens to boost up vigour and productivity of the black pepper vines.

To prevent the growth of the disease, lets look at some chemical and bio control methods:

Biocontrol methods:

Step 1) Apply neem oil cake as a soil amendment @ 1 kg/vine during May-June, which has a suppressive action both on nematodes and Phytophthora, apart from its source as nutrient.

Step 2) Apply Tricoderma.V or H – 40 gm/plant. Important to note, any fertilizers should be applied only after 30 days of applying Tricoderma.

Chemical control methods:

  1. Remove infected and dead vines along with the root system from the plantation. Then, burn the infected vines to check the population build up of these pathogens. Drench the soil with 5 litres of copper oxychloride (0.2%).
  2. Prune-off tender runner shoots/leaves and hanging shoots which are touching the soil or tie them to the standard to reduce the chances of infection.
  3. Use Ridomil (Mancozeb + Metalaxyl) – 5 gms per 5 litres of water. Spray the vines and drench the soil.
    Spray vines with Bordeaux mixture (1%), drench the basins with 3-5 litres of (0.2%) copper oxychloride (2g/lit) or 1% bordeaux mixture, once as a pre-monsoon treatment (May-June) and again as a post-monsoon treatment (August-September). The quantity of copper oxychloride depends upon the size of canopy. Apply Bordeaux paste upto 30 cm from base to check collar infection.

*Note: My experience suggests that if the disease is severe, applying Ridomil gives good result compared to rest of the fungicides.

2. Slow Wilt

Slow wilt is caused by fungal infection coupled with soil-borne root knot nematode. To prevent slow wilt, all of the above instructions hold. In addition to that, apply 50 grams of Carbofuran to the soil.

When following the above mentioned procedures, there are some precautions you need to consider. This is courtesy to Indian Institute of Spices Research


  1. Mild foliar yellowing is an indication of root infection and needs a careful watch and prompt phytosanitary and prophylactic action.
  2. Presence of runner root infection or leaf infection is a warning signal to note that Phytophthora is active.
  3. Timely application of fungicide/nematicide is important and application of advanced stages of infection would be ineffective. Optimum time differs from place to place depending on the earliness of monsoon showers.
  4. Resort to foliar spray at maximum foliage emergence.
  5. Adequate soil moisture should be ensured at the time of nematicide application.
  6. Avoid using runner shoots from diseased garden as planting materials.
  7. Neem cake oil with oil content of atleast 3-4% should be used as a soil amendment and the solvent extracted cake will not be effective.

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