Potato cyst nematodes have been found in another Idaho potato field, but officials say there should be no effect on potato volumes or quality.
The 10th find since the pest was first discovered in Idaho in 2006 was confirmed on March 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The pest was found on a 164-acre field in Idaho’s Bonneville County. It was the first find since December 2008.
Frank Muir, chief executive officer of the Idaho Potato Commission, Eagle, said consumers and buyers of Idaho potatoes will see no effects from the latest find.
“It’s business as usual,” he said. “No actions have been taken by any of our trading partners.”
Following earlier nematode finds, Japan, Canada, Mexico and South Korea temporarily banned spud exports from Idaho.
Because of an aggressive quarantine and treatment program, Idaho shippers are confident that their product is nematode-free, Muir said.
“Customers can be assured that potatoes coming from Idaho are free from PSN,” he said. “All potatoes in areas (near where nematodes have been found) undergo intense scrutiny. No potatoes with PSN ever ship.”
There are currently 7,808 acres in Idaho the USDA categorizes as “regulated,” meaning that they are either infested or associated with an infested field.
Potatoes cannot be shipped from the 1,200 acres of infested fields.
Since the first find in 2006, about 247,000 soil samples have been taken from regulated areas.
Progress has been made recently in the effort to eradicate nematodes from Idaho. In 2010, three infested fields that underwent methyl bromide and other treatments were found to have no viable nematodes, according to APHIS.
APHIS spokesman Larry Hawkins also was confident the latest find would have little effect on efforts to contain the pest.
“It’s significant, but it’s not a big setback for the program,” he said. “When we find a new one, it’s not welcome news, but it’s not a total shock. To my knowledge, there’s been no regulatory action. (Shippers) can continue to ship as they have before.”
Potato cyst nematodes are common in the Netherlands and also have been found in New Brunswick, Canada, but they have not been found in any other U.S. state.
The pests, which pose no danger to humans, can dramatically reduce yields if left untreated, but they can take up to 20 years to cause significant damage.