Jan 3, 2017
Northwest Potato Research Consortium reports on PCN eradication

The anterior part of a second-stage juvenile, pale cyst nematode. Christopher Hogger, Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture, Bugwood.org

In the December 27, 2016 issue of its Potato Progress newsletter, Volume 16, Number 17; the Northwest Potato Research Consortium published an article reporting the latest pale cyst nematode (PCN) eradication research authored by L.M. Dandurand, M. Morra and I. Zasada. This article also provides brief histories on both the golden nematode regulatory program in New York, and PCN in Idaho. According to the report: “Potato cyst nematodes are of worldwide regulatory concern, and are one of the most economically impactful pests of potato. Over 125 countries besides the U.S. have potato cyst nematodes on their action lists because they can cause in excess of 80 percent yield loss if not controlled.”

The USDA-APHIS program goals are to contain, regulate and eradicate PCN in Idaho. This article outlines these efforts, and gives an update on current PCN eradication research and methods. While chemical treatments have been the primary control method for the nearly 3,000 acres in Idaho, other methods are also being investigated at the University of Idaho and by USDA-ARS collaborators in Corvallis, Oregon; Prosser, Washington; Aberdeen, Idaho and Ithaca, New York. These include the use of litchi tomato as a trap crop for PCN, the use of biological control agents, biofumigants and combinations of these tools to eradicate PCN.

In a field trial, cropping with litchi tomato reduced PCN populations at the end of a growing season by 30 to 40 percent compared to populations on fallowed ground alone. When potatoes were planted after litchi tomato, reproduction of PCN was 87 percent less than when potatoes were grown after a fallow season.

Research has also identified several nematode-killing fungi which are natural enemies to cyst nematodes. These beneficial fungi show promise as they attack PCN. They are parasitic and destroy eggs in their cysts. In some cases the fungi will kill infective larvae in the soil. Field trials in Shelley, Idaho, showed that single applications of the fungi Tricoderma harzarium and Plectosphaerella cucumerina reduced PCN egg content by approximately 25-30 percent on bare soil. But when applied with combinations of litchi tomato, the egg content was further reduced by 70 to 83 percent.

U.S. trading partners have recognized the success of the PCN response program, and they agree that potatoes outside the current regulated area have minimal PCN risk. For the complete article, visit the Northwest Potato Research Consortium’s website at www.nwpotatoresearch.com. For access to the consortium’s research library, a login access request will need to be completed.

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