The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $500,000 to the potato cyst nematode program in Idaho, according to an announcement by U.S. agriculture secretary Mike Johanns.

The $500,000 is in addition to nearly $24 million in emergency funding that has already been dedicated toward PCN surveillance and eradication activities in Idaho—the only state with PCN.

Specifically, the funding will advance intensive survey activities in seed potato fields, packing facilities and storage sheds. State and federal agricultural officials also will continue soil fumigations and quarantine enforcement to eradicate the pest in Idaho.

PCN, Globodera pallida, is a major pest of potato crops in cool-temperate areas. It primarily affects plants within the potato family including tomatoes, eggplants and some weeds. If left uncontrolled, nematodes can cause up to 80 percent yield loss.

PCN is known to exist in many potato-growing regions throughout the world. In North America, the nematode is also known to be present on the island of Newfoundland, Canada. PCN infestations may be associated with patches of poor growth. Affected potato plants may exhibit yellowing, wilting or death of foliage—none of which has been observed in Idaho potato fields.