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USDA Announces Funding for PCN Eradication in Idaho

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced April 20 that nearly $11 million in additional Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funds would be made available to implement an eradication strategy for potato cyst nematode (PCN) in Idaho, according to a USDA statement.

"These additional funds will enhance our efforts to eradicate this serious pest and protect Idaho's potato industry," Johanns said. "Because the infestation is confined to an isolated area, we have a unique opportunity to eliminate this pest before it has a chance to become established."

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), in coordination with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), confirmed the first U.S detection of PCN in a soil sample collected from a potato processing facility in Idaho in April 2006. Following the August 2006 transfer of $12.9 million in CCC funds, state and federal agricultural officials began an extensive survey of Idaho production and seed potato fields, packing facilities and storage sheds.

The survey, which included testing more than 34,000 soil samples from 800 fields and facilities, determined that PCN is confined to seven fields within a one mile radius. Based on this information, APHIS established a technical working group comprised of university scientists and international PCN experts, and together they devised an eradication strategy for the isolated infestation.

APHIS and ISDA will work together to eradicate PCN, with both state and federal employees involved in implementing survey, testing and management activities. The PCN eradication program in Idaho is projected to last five years.

APHIS and ISDA will use this latest infusion of funding for intensive surveys, soil fumigation and strict enforcement of quarantine regulations to prevent PCN from spreading.

PCN, Globodera pallida, is a major pest of potato crops in cool-temperate areas. It primarily affects plants within the potato family including tomatoes, eggplants and some weeds. If left uncontrolled, nematodes can cause up to 80 percent yield loss.

PCN is known to exist in many potato-growing regions throughout the world. In North America, the nematode is known to be present on the island of Newfoundland, Canada. PCN infestations may be associated with patches of poor growth. Affected potato plants may exhibit yellowing, wilting or death of foliage--none of which has been observed in Idaho potato fields.

Originally posted Friday, Apr. 20, 2007

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