Forum to tackle PCN throughout Britain


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24 August 2023
Organisations collaborate to bring 'joined-up' approach to pest.

MEMBERSHIP organisation, GB Potatoes and research association CUPGRA are working in partnership to establish a GB PCN forum to counter the problem and produce a comprehensive strategy for future management of PCN.

The Forum will focus on bringing together all those from across the industry who have an interest in, or knowledge of PCN and coordinate an approach that turns that information into a practical industry plan.

The Forum’s interest will include research past, present and future threats to chemical control, breeding of resistant/tolerant varieties and information on trap cropping and bio fumigation amongst other areas to provide the industry with a strategy for tackling the PCN issue in an integrated way.

An initial workshop was held on March 21st at CUPGRA, attended by representatives from all sectors of the industry where it was agreed that there was a need for a GB PCN Forum. The first meeting of the PCN Forum took place on August 17th.

Chair of GB Potatoes Mark Taylor said: “PCN is one of the major issues facing the potato sector and, without a co-ordinated approach to the pest, the industry is under a grave threat of walking into a situation from which it will be difficult to reverse. 

“This is why it is so important that the industry comes together to tackle the problem in a joined-up and focussed way.  As the voice of the GB potato industry, GB Potatoes is ideally placed to facilitate this forum in partnership with CUPGRA.

“It is vitally important that we produce defined goals, realistic timelines and create practical solutions that support the industry. It is not a talking shop, and we will expect to be measured on our outputs.”

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Deputy Chair of CUPGRA, David Almond, added: “CUPGRA are delighted to be working with GB Potatoes to create this Forum and ensure that the industry takes a major step forward in developing a plan for tackling this costly and devastating pest. ”

The GB PCN forum will be an open and inclusive group pulling on technical expertise from wherever it is available as well as utilising the practical skills of growers to produce a strategy that is workable in the field. The steering group is the “initiator” to get the forum underway. Beyond that all interested parties will be encouraged to contribute.

Those involved say it is “essential” that everyone in the industry buys in to the outcomes of the forum - not only those directly involved but those on the periphery such as land agents, landowners, consultants, retailers, and the supply chain.

To date, the Scottish Government has put funding in place creating PCN Action Scotland and a lot of work has also been conducted across England and Wales. The forum hopes to bring these pieces of work together for the good of the British potato industry as a whole.


PCN facts:

  • 48% of England & Wales and 35% of Scotland’s ware land is infected with PCN.
  • The estimated cost to the GB potato industry is c. £31m. (source. Matt Back, Harper Adams university)
  • PCN can reduce yields by up to 80%. This is a significant loss in a crop that is expensive to grow and requires a high number of inputs.
  • Seed potatoes must be grown in soil that has been tested and found to have no PCN cysts present.
  • The area infested with Globodera Pallida is doubling every 7 years in Scotland, meaning there is a less land available for producing seed potatoes.
  • There are fewer resistant varieties available to control G. pallida than G. rostochiensis. (Source. PCN Action Scotland.)
  • Work already conducted in Scotland has identified that G. Pallida is an increasing problem and is becoming more of an issue than G. Rostochiensis as it is more genetically variable. 
  • Only 3% of ware crops and 8% of seed crops grown in Scotland are resistant to G. Pallida, demonstrating the extent of the problem. 

Improving PCN trap crop success

PCN threat increasing for Scotland seed