The British potato industry faces a looming threat from the Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN). Recognizing the urgency of the situation, GB Potatoes and CUPGRA have joined forces to establish the GB PCN Forum, aiming to consolidate efforts and devise a comprehensive strategy to combat this menace, GB Potatoes says in a news release issued today.
GB Potatoes point out that 48% of England & Wales and 35% of Scotland’s ware land is infected with PCN. The estimated cost to the GB potato industry is c. £31m, according to Matt Back at Harper Adams university. PCN can reduce yields by up to 80%. This is a significant loss in a crop that is expensive to grow and requires a high number of inputs.
The area infested with Globodera Pallida is doubling every 7 years in Scotland, meaning there is a less land available for producing seed potatoes.
There are fewer resistant varieties available to control G. pallida than G. rostochiensis, according to PCN Action Scotland. Only 3% of ware crops and 8% of seed crops grown in Scotland are resistant to G. Pallida, demonstrating the extent of the problem.
A Unified Approach to Tackle PCN
While various organizations have been actively working to address the PCN issue, a cohesive strategy has been missing. The GB PCN Forum aims to bridge this gap by bringing together experts and stakeholders from across the industry. The forum will focus on converting the collective knowledge into a practical industry plan, encompassing areas such as:
- Past and present research on PCN
- Future challenges in chemical control
- Breeding of resistant/tolerant potato varieties
- Information on trap cropping and bio-fumigation
- Milestones in the Making
The need for a unified forum was unanimously agreed upon during an initial workshop held at CUPGRA on 21st March 2023. Following this, the inaugural meeting of the GB PCN Forum took place on 17th August 2023.
Industry Leaders Weigh In
Mark Taylor, Chair of GB Potatoes, emphasized the gravity of the PCN issue, stating, “Without a coordinated approach, the industry risks irreversible damage. It’s crucial for us to unite and address this problem head-on. GB Potatoes, representing the voice of the British potato industry, is proud to facilitate this forum in collaboration with CUPGRA.”
David Almond, Deputy Chair of CUPGRA, expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership, noting, “CUPGRA is thrilled to collaborate with GB Potatoes. Together, we aim to take significant strides in devising a plan to counter this detrimental pest.”
An Open Forum for All where Communication is Key
The GB PCN Forum encourages participation from all industry stakeholders, from technical experts to growers. The steering group will initiate the forum’s activities, but the platform will remain open for contributions from all interested parties, including Land Agents, Landowners, consultants, retailers, and the supply chain.
Effective dissemination of information and outcomes is crucial for the forum’s success. Both GB Potatoes and CUPGRA are committed to ensuring that the industry remains well-informed and aligned in its efforts to tackle the PCN threat.
It is very important that the whole of Great Britain works together to tackle this growing problem, according to the members of the Forum. Work already conducted in Scotland has identified that G. Pallida is an increasing problem and is becoming more of an issue than G. Rostochiensis as it is more genetically variable.
Anyone is welcome to get in touch with Graham Bannister at GB Potatoes for further information: email@example.com.
More information is also available at:
AHDB PCN Growers guide: https://horticulture.ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/pcn-grower-guide
PCN Action Scotland: https://www.pcnhub.ac.uk/
Source: GB Potatoes
Photo: From left to right: Peter Craven (NIAB potatoes), James Lee (CUPGRA executive member), Sophie Bambridge (CUPGRA Chair & GB Potatoes board member), Mark Taylor (GB Potatoes Chair), David Almond (CUPGRA Deputy Chair), James Harrison ( CUPGRA Vice Chair & GB Potatoes board member).