New rules to ease seed potato exports to U.S.

New changes to the guidelines meant to keep potato cyst nematodes (PCN) in check are expected to reduce the cost and testing burden on seed potato growers exporting to the U.S.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture announced adoption of their revised guidelines Tuesday.

Seed potato growers, effective immediately, can be eligible to export three crops without any additional soil sampling and testing — if their fields have been tested twice and found not to be infested with PCN.

Seed potato growers, until now, have had to undergo sampling and testing for every crop of seed potatoes bound for the U.S.

Small potato tuber samples also may now be exported to the U.S. without any additional soil sampling and testing, CFIA added, if the samples were produced in a field that has been tested and found not to be infested with PCN.

The new guidelines are generally expected to help farmers “take advantage of trade opportunities with less paperwork, fewer delays and lower costs,” the agency said in a release.

“The revision to the PCN guidelines is a step in the right direction, based on science, and it should reduce the demand on PCN soil sampling and testing,” Bob Watson, chairman of the Canadian Potato Council’s seed potato subcommittee, said in a CFIA release Tuesday.

“We were pleased to be involved throughout the revision process and the revised guidelines should benefit growers on both sides of the border.”

PCN, a parasite species, is not a risk to human health, but is a quarantine pest for the U.S. and Canada. If left unmanaged, PCNs can reduce yields of potatoes and other host crops such as tomatoes and eggplants by up to 80 per cent.

PCNs are also considered difficult to eradicate as they can persist dormant in soil for several decades.

Golden nematode and pale cyst nematode, the two PCN species found in Canada, have also been confirmed in the U.S. and 63 other countries worldwide. Within Canada, both pale cyst nematode and golden nematode have been found in Newfoundland, while golden nematode has also been found in Alberta and Quebec and on Vancouver Island.

Another nematode species, potato rot nematode, most recently appeared in a garlic plot in the Ottawa area in mid-2011 and is “effectively controlled” on Prince Edward Island. –– Network



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