Survey Shows No Potato Pest

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As of the end of September the federal government’s annual hunt for potato cyst nematode (PCN) was about 40 per cent complete and so far was negative, Alberta included, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

CFIA reported Sept. 30 that it “continues to make progress with soil sample collection and analysis” toward its goal of about 65,000 samples for the 2009 PCN detection and deregulation surveys.

“So far, approximately 40,000 soil samples have been received and 28,000 have been tested,” CFIA said in a statement. “All results have been negative for the plant pest.”

Some of what’s collected and tested is part of the agency’s deregulation survey, meant to support the removal of regulatory requirements that were placed on all PCNregulated fields in Alberta after PCN was found in two fields in 2007.

Sample collection has been completed on 81 of Alberta’s 84 PCNregulated fields and so far, eight of those fields have had all regulatory requirements lifted, CFIA said.

As more test results come in, risk assessments will be completed and further “regulatory requirements” may be lifted, CFIA said.

Ottawa and Washington agreed in June to a set of revised cross-border PCN guidelines, which include notifying the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prior to the deregulation of any field.

Testing of Canada’s seed potato fields following the 2008 crop turned up no cases of PCN. Golden nematode turned up in a single soil sample in each of two Alberta potato fields in late 2007, halting that province’s seed potato exports into the U.S. until late January this year.

The U.S. market has since been open to all Canadian seed potatoes that meet PCN phytosanitary guidelines, not counting potatoes grown in “regulated areas.”

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