(Nov. 8) Two more Idaho fields have been found with potato cyst nematodes in them, but industry officials don’t think trade negotiations will suffer as a result.

Fields in Bingham and Bonneville County, which are in a regulated area established after nematodes were found in the state last spring and summer, were found to contain the pests, officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Idaho State Department of Agriculture reported Oct. 30.

Seven fields have now been found with potato cyst nematodes, which pose no health risk but can decimate crops if left untreated. All seven fields are within a mile of the regulated area’s center. The 10,000-acre area contains about 3,500 acres of potatoes, or about 1.1% of the state’s total acreage.

On Aug. 28, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and APHIS announced the creation of a protocol to restrict the movement and handling of potatoes in the restricted area.

The most recent finding doesn’t come as a surprise, nor should it cause the industry additional concern, said John Keeling, executive director of the National Potato Council, Washington, D.C.

“I think the key is the location within the mile epicenter,” he said. “It’s not unexpected to make additional finds close to the original finds. If this was found in another part of the state, it could signal something different. What this signifies is that the infestation was found early, and found in small numbers.”

Wayne Hoffman, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Agriculture, agreed.

“We’re not concerned, and the reason why is that there was always the expectation that we would find other fields with nematodes in the regulated area,” he said.

Keeling and Hoffman are optimistic that negotiations with countries that banned imports from Idaho after the initial nematode findings won’t be hurt by the most recent findings. Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea banned imports. Only Canada has lifted its ban.