AHDB Potatoes has launched a new guide to help potato growers test for Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN), a pest that costs the industry more than £25m each year.

The release of PCN: Sampling and laboratory guide draws on Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board-funded research, conducted by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) and BioSS, measuring the effectiveness of soil sampling techniques ahead of PCN testing.

At a conference recently, which was attended by over 40 prominent agronomists and researchers with a keen interest in PCN, Dr Sue Cowgill, Senior Scientist at AHDB, said: “The research provides clear and usable results, and the conference allowed us to discuss these with those out in the field and provide an open forum to gain opinions on the most effective way to share the information with growers.”

Data from statutory sampling and recent AHDB funded research, conducted at Harper Adams University, had shown that PCN is moving into areas and fields where it has not previously been found.

"PCN is a damaging pest, and once it is in your soil, it is very hard to remove” said Dr Cowgill.

“The first step for any grower is to find out if there is PCN in the field, and if there is, what species is present. Once you know this information, you can make the best decisions for your farm and you’ll also be assisting the industry as a whole by helping to control the pest.”

Patrick Mitton, chair of the Nematicide Stewardship Programme, attended the conference. He said: “The new PCN sampling guide is a welcome update to the understanding of PCN detection, management and control.

The guide is an important contribution to knowledge exchange which will be of importance to both advisors and growers alike”.

Market round-up

Wallets Marts had 759 prime lambs forward in Castle Douglas on Tuesday where prices were sharper on the week. Top prices on the day were £84 and 182.7p with the overall averages levelling at £73.31 and 168.15p (+12.7p).

416 Cast sheep sold well apart from light, plain ewes which were hard to place. 359 Heavy Ewes sold to £110 for Texels and averaged £51.85 and 49 hill ewes sold to £49 for Blackface and averaged £27.94 with tups to £88 for BFL Rams.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 13 prime heifers at Ayr on Tuesday to a top of £1451 per head and 240p per kg to average £1151.05 and 220.2p

One young bull sold to £1073 or 185p

In the rough ring 125 beef cows averaged 115.6p, while 120 dairy cows levelled at 88.4p.

A large show of 17 dairy cattle sold to a top price of £1980 for a tidy Holstein Friesian heifer and the sale averaged £1327.