Potato Ring Rot – suspect outbreak in the East of England

Potato Ring Rot – suspect outbreak in the East of England

Fera announced on 18th January 2013 that it is investigating a suspect outbreak of potato ring rot in the East of England.This follows notification by the Dutch Plant Protection Service of the delivery of six lots of two varieties of seed potatoes, from a farm involved with an outbreak in the Netherlands. They have been used to grow seed potatoes and ware potatoes in England. The stocks involved had been subject to ring rot screening tests in the Netherlands and again in the UK, and the ring rot bacterium was not found to be present.Although the stocks were not themselves known to be infected, and are of different varieties to the one found infected in the Netherlands, the Dutch Plant Protection Service notified Fera because of their association with the outbreak farm. This has allowed early investigation of the imported seed lots in England by the UK Plant Health Service.Fera’s Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate have been tracing remaining harvested stocks and testing them at Fera’s laboratory in Sand Hutton. Provisional results suggest that ring rot is present in one of the varieties. Final confirmation will take several weeks however. Tests on the other variety involved are continuing.Tracing and holding of harvested stocks will continue. Tracing of stocks of other varieties grown on the farm which grew seed potatoes from the Dutch stocks is underway, as well as tracing of ware potatoes grown from the Dutch stocks.All seed potatoes known to be infected are being held under statutory Holding Notices to avoid further spread. Holding Notices are also being placed on any remaining ware potato crops associated with the Dutch stocks in order to prevent the risk of further movement. At this stage, no more than a small number of farms are thought to be involved and there is no evidence that any of the confirmed infected stock has moved outside of England.

While the industry as a whole is not considered to be at risk, if growers are concerned they can speak to their local Plant Health and Seeds Inspector. Information about ring rot and its symptoms is available in a factsheet.

In line with usual practice in outbreak situations, Fera is not at this stage disclosing details of the UK farms involved, or publishing other information (e.g. on varieties) which could be used to identify the farms involved. If other farms are affected they will be contacted directly by Fera’s PHSI.

Fera will publish updates as more information becomes available.

The Scottish Government has advised BPTA that Scotland did not receive any of the diseased Dutch potatoes or any other potatoes grown on the affected farm and early indications from the trace forward exercise being undertaken by Defra suggest none of the suspect material came to Scotland.