Scottish Potato Industry Comes Together Against Pest Threat
Growers in Scotland are joining forces to tackle the spread of the potato cyst nematode (PCN), which, some fear, could severely damage the Scottish potato industry by 2025, reports the BBC.
The amount of land affected in Scotland has been doubling every six or seven years, and researchers fear the pest will cost the industry millions. It can take 30 years before potatoes can be grown again on infected land.
In a bid to counter the effects of this threat, a meeting of the Soil Association Scotland-led Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) was hosted earlier this month. The aim was to allow industry experts to discuss the latest research on PCN and potential control methods.
One of the long-term solutions discussed at the meeting was the need to grow varieties of potato which are resistant to PCN. However, only two of the top 15 Scottish varieties of seed potatoes which are currently grown are resistant to pallida.
It was suggested at the meeting that soil sampling should be done to find solutions. Stuart Wale of SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College, who was cited by the report, said that resistant varieties of potatoes are the long-term solutions, but the industry is not yet ready and needs to encourage breeders.
A steering group of growers and industry representatives will now be formed to take forward the ideas from the meeting.