Managing pests in potatoes

Effects of Soil Pests

Soil pests such as Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN), Free-living Nematode (FLN) and Wireworm can cause considerable damage to crops.

PCN alone is the most important potato soil pest, costing the potato industry £25 million per year and additional costs are incurred by processors and retailers due to reduced crop quality from the effects of other pests.

There are two species of PCN, Globodera rostochiensis and Globodera pallida. G. pallida (white or pale cyst nematode) has become predominant due to the cultivation of varieties with resistance to G. rostochiensis (yellow or golden cyst nematode). Both species survive in soil as cysts, which can contain more than 500 eggs, and can persist for many years. The eggs contain juvenile nematodes and in the presence of a potato crop some of the juveniles hatch and invade the potato roots. Diversion of nutrients from the roots to the feeding nematodes leads to poor growth, nutrient deficiency and water stress in the crop.