Updated recommendations for the management of potato cyst nematodes (PCN) have been published by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

“PCN continues to spread into new areas across Britain. The only way we’re going to stop the spread is through an integrated approach,” said AHDB knowledge transfer manager, Dr Anne Stone, who has edited a new PCN grower guide with information on how to deal with the pest.

That integrated approach includes collaboration between growers, agronomists, researchers and the supply chain – and it means growers and agronomists ‘thinking PCN’ at every stage, from seed selection, to hygiene measures at harvest, to planning their rotation, said Dr Stone.

The publication of the PCN grower guide follows a literature review by a group of nematologists, led by Sue Hockland, and including Dr Tom Prior of Fera, Dr Kim Davie, Dr Jon Pickup, of SASA, Dr Vivian Blok, Professor John Jones, of the James Hutton Institute, Dr Matt Back and Dr Ivan Grove, of Harper Adams University.

The integrated approach in the guide recommends the use of a range of control measures to reduce the PCN population at the time of planting.

These include hygiene, clean seed, control of volunteers, rotation length, trap crops, biofumigants, nematicides and variety selection.

“In general, the resistance of the particular variety being grown will have the greatest effect on the PCN population following harvest. Growers have many factors that affect the variety they grow and the land available to grow it in.

“Ultimately, if they can find a way to minimise the effect of PCN on their crops and the pest’s presence in the soil, they’ll enjoy better marketable yields and provide a more sustainable environment for future crops. This guide has been designed to help them achieve this,” said Dr Stone.

The PCN grower guide can be downloaded, or ordered in hard copy, at ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/PCN