11 January 2002

Nematode epidemic

POTATO growers are paying the price for not controlling nematodes when first detected and must use all available weapons to deal with them.

"We are in the middle of an epidemic," warns David Trudgill of the Scottish Crops Research Institute. "It can only get worse and growers must learn how to live with it, or go out of production."

A recent survey suggests that about 700,000ha a year of ware is grown on land infested by hard-to-control pallida nematodes.

The only counter-attack is integrated control including sampling at the right time, he says.

Soils should be assessed immediately after cropping when the pests are most numerous, and there is a 10 times better chance of finding them, he advises. &#42