PCN (Potato Cyst Nematode)

Potato cyst nematode is the most important potato pest in the UK and has the potential to cause substantial yield losses. 

There are two species of PCN, Globodera rostochiensis (G. rostochiensisand Globodera pallida (G. pallida). 

G. pallida has become widespread due to its prolonged hatching period and the selection pressure created by the cultivation of many varieties that are resistant to G. rostochiensis but susceptible to G. pallida.

How to identify and prevent PCN

An IPM approach is required to deal with PCN, including:

  • Sample soil to detect the presence of PCN and, if confirmed, determine the PCN species and population levels because these will influence the choice of management options
  • Extend rotations to at least eight years to reduce PCN levels
  • Use certified seed potatoes, produced on land tested for freedom from PCN
  • Ensure hygienic practices that limit the movement of soil, including that from graders
  • Control volunteer potatoes
  • Use varieties that are resistant to the species of PCN present
  • Use trap cropping and biofumigants in the rotation
  • Use a granular nematicide

PCN population changes 2008–2018

Nematicide Stewardship Programme (NSP)

Nematode control is integral to the production of high quality, nutritious root crops and granular nematicides are a vital tool in an integrated strategy to control this pest.

The NSP’s role is to ensure a best practice approach across all aspects of their use, from delivery on farm through to operator handling, machinery set up and maintenance, to application and storage.

Visit NSP for training, downloads and protocols

Dealing with PCN – resources

Trap Crops - 2020 trials 

PCN ‘trap crop’ Solanum sisymbriifolium (sticky nightshade) is an alternative cultural control method of control which has demonstrated significant promise. While S. sisymbriifolium has the potential to reduce PCN population densities by 75-80%, the ideal establishment time is May/June and the crop has a track record of being difficult to establish. 

Trials are being conducted this year looking at the possibility of using trap crops to control PCN. Find out more about these trials