AHDB updates measures to prevent spread of PCN

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has published an updated set of regulations and recommendations for dealing with the spread of Potato Cyst Nematodes (PCN).

The Board urges an “integrated approach” to tackling the problem, which includes a collaborative effort between growers, agronomists, researchers and the supply chain.

Potato Cyst Nematodes are 1mm long roundworms which live on the roots of certain types of crop, including potatoes. They can inhibit growth of the plants and, when there’s a high population of them, cause early ageing in a plant.

“As we revealed last month, PCN continue to spread into new areas across Britain. The only way we’re going to stop the spread is through an integrated approach,” said Dr. Anne Stone, knowledge transfer manager at AHDB Potatoes.

“That includes collaboration between growers, agronomists, researchers and the supply chain – and it means growers and agronomists thinking ‘PCN’ at every stage, from seed selection to hygiene measures at harvest to planning their rotation,” added Dr. Stone.

The ‘PCN Grower Guide’ has come about as a result of a review by a group of nematologists from various research agencies across the UK.

The new guide recommends that a range of control measures be used to reduce the population of the pests at planting, including hygiene control, using clean seeds and spreading nematicides.

“In general, the resistance of the particular variety being grown will have the greatest effect on the PCN population following harvest,” said Dr. Stone.

She added that: “Ultimately, if [growers] can find a way to minimise the effect of PCN on their crops and the pest’s presence in the soil, they’ll enjoy better marketable yields and provide a more sustainable environment for future crops.”

To download the guide, or to order a hard copy, go to ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/PCN.