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Practical advice on PCN

27 June 2014

Damage caused by Potato Cyst Nematodes (PCN) Globodera rostochiensis and G. pallida can range from slight yield loss up to crop failure depending on the infestation level.  PCN experts at East Midlands will provide the latest practical approach to PCN control during interactive field sessions.

 
Potato cyst nematode is the most important potato pest in the UK. Of the two PCN species (Globodera rostochiensis and Globodera pallida), G. pallida has become widespread. This is due to its prolonged hatching period and the selection pressure created by the cultivation of many varieties, such as Maris Piper, that are resistant to G. rostochiensis but susceptible to G. pallida.
 
At East Midlands Potato Day 2014, PCN theory and best practice will be tackled and debated. Senior researcher in Plant Pathology and Nematology at Harper Adams, Dr Matt Back will provide the latest theory on variety tolerance and resistance. Frontier’s Reuben Morris will discuss field sampling for PCN and QV Food’s Duncan Worth and Simon Day will discuss their approach to PCN management, timings and rotational control at the host farm.
 
Effective soil sampling and testing to preserve land available for potato growing is crucial and this led to the launch of an industry-supported Soil Pest Management Initiative (SPMI) last year. SPMI’s role is to address challenges related to the sustainable control of nematodes and other soil pests.
 
Attendees to East Midlands Potato Day will have the opportunity to hear from SPMI group members, how the stakeholder’s comprising: agrochemical companies, manufacturers, distributors, NFU, and research providers are standardising soil sampling to benefit the industry.
 
“Soil sampling is vital to understanding your PCN population throughout the land in your potato rotation,” explains AHDB Potatoes Sue Cowgill who sits on the SPMI committee. “To get a comprehensive understanding, SPMI advocate using a reputable GPS soil sampling contractor to take at least 50 cores of soil, at 0-20cm depth, within a 1ha grid.”
 
This approach has been adopted for some time by East Midlands Potato Day hosts, Worth Farms. Duncan Worth and Simon Day will explain during their session, why taking this approach is crucial to their approach to potato field management.
 
An estimated 64% of GB potato land is PCN infested and estimated crop loss due to infestation is c. £26M a year. However, some losses cannot be attributed to PCN due to low levels of infestation being difficult to detect.
 
 “When land becomes infected, PCN is often present in small discrete patches, in which densities are still low, and these patches can be difficult to detect. The more intensive the sampling the better the chance of detecting PCN and tackling the problem early,” says Sue.
 
“Even with well-established populations, reliable estimates of the population densities present (and the species) are important and the more intensive the sampling the more reliable the estimate will be. That’s why SPMI is advocating a minimum of 50 cores per ha for commercial sampling of land selected for ware production.”
 
East Midlands Potato Day is part of AHDB Potatoes ‘Summer Techfest’ which also features 50 years of Storage Research and the Summer Potato Feast. To register go to: www.potato.org.uk/events.
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