Crop Inspectors

Aphid Monitoring

The role of aphids as vectors of potato viruses is of concern to the Scottish seed potato industry. SASA operates a national network of suction traps collecting information about aphid abundance and movement, and providing advice on the risk of virus transmission and the need for aphid control.

The suction trap data contribute to a UK network of traps operated by Rothamsted Research. Weekly aphid bulletins are published by the Rothamsted Insect Survey.

Consignment Testing for PCN prior to Export

Most countries require imported potatoes, if not all plant material and soil, to be free from Potato Cyst Nematodes (PCN). For seed exports, a phytosanitary certificate issued on the basis of a pre-crop soil test is a generally accepted means of assuring PCN freedom. As PCN cannot be detected by the visual inspection of harvested tubers, standard pre-export inspection for health and quality cannot confirm the presence or absence of cysts.

Peat Testing

Testing of Peat used for Seed Potato Production

Under the new PCN Directive 2007/33/EC, there is no longer a requirement to test samples of growing media (usually peat based) in which potato mini-tubers are grown, to confirm the absence of PCN.  The new PCN Directive only relates to the testing of 'field-soil' used for growing seed potatoes. 

Contacts - Potato Branch

Potato Branch address: Potato Branch, SASA, Roddinglaw Road, Edinburgh, EH12 9FJ

Head of Potato Branch

Dr T (Triona) Davey 
Tel: +44(0)131 244 6344

Potato Pathology

Pathology Manager: Dr R (Ros) McHugh
Tel: +44(0)131 244 8931

Potato Exports

Ware Potatoes

In order to protect the overall health of all potatoes grown in Scotland ware potato production must meet minimum quality standard monitored and verified by the Scottish Government.

Scotland is a “Community Grade Region” for seed potatoes.  This status requires that all potatoes planted in Scotland must be Pre-basic or Basic category seed (Union grade PB, S, SE or E).

Seed bought in from the EU member states must carry a Union grade on the label.

Nuclear Stock

The Seed Potatoes (Scotland) Regulations 2000 requires that seed stocks derived in Scotland must originate from nuclear stock (in vitro pathogen tested microplants) produced by SASA. This ensures that the starting material is pathogen-free according to a programme of official testing for indigenous and EU-quarantine pathogens.

Soil Testing

Potato cyst nematode (PCN) is the name commonly given to two species of cyst nematode which are serious pests of potato crops world-wide, namely Globodera pallida and Globodera rostochiensis. They feed on the roots of the plant and can cause significant loss of yield, including crop failure.  The cysts can survive in the soil for many years (over 25 years under favourable conditions), multiplying rapidly when a new crop of host plants is planted.

PCN Resistance Testing

The 2007 EU PCN Directive requires Member States of the EU to submit annually a list of all new potato varieties which have found to be resistant to PCN by official testing.  Until 2010, all cultivars of potato entered for the UK National List VCU (Value for Cultivation and Use) trials have been tested for resistance to the dominant pathotypes of PCN occurring in the UK. Under the new Directive all official testing for resistance will be harmonised, including assessing resistance by a common scoring system based on a 1 to 9 scale.

What are nematodes?

Take a handful of soil from almost anywhere in the world, from the Arctic to the Tropics, from the tops of mountains to the depths of seas, from deserts to swamps, extract the living organisms in water, and among the other forms of life you will find elongate, threadlike, active animals – these are nematodes (or eelworms, or roundworms).  Many of them will just be visible without magnification, but others will only be seen with a good magnifying lens or microscope.


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