Scottish seed potatoes free of dickeya infection

SCOTTISH seed potatoes remain free from dickeya infection, a survey for the presence of the highly damaging potato disease has shown.

Recent legislation established a ‘zero tolerance’ approach in Scotland for dickeya infections in potato crops, and a major survey has been carried out this year by the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate to support stringent control measures.

The survey targeted more than 550 potato crops over the summer, including all high-risk seed and ware crops produced from non-Scottish origin seed.

Samples from Scottish-origin seed and ware crops were all found to be negative. However, when testing 26 non-Scottish origin crops, nine tested positive for the presence of dickeya.

All affected growers were informed immediately and the necessary notice served on them setting out the action they were required to take. The ‘zero tolerance’ approach means crops found to be infected with dickeya cannot used as seed, and conditions are imposed to prevent contamination of other crops.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead welcomed the continued disease-free status of Scottish-origin seed, but warned there could be no let up in the concerted efforts to ensure Scottish seed potatoes remain free of dickeya infection.

“The Scottish Government, working closely with our potato industry, has introduced robust measures to ensure that this damaging disease does not get into our very important domestic seed potato supply.

“This ‘zero tolerance’ approach - now under-pinned by tough legislation - is vital to help protect our export trade and our hard won reputation for producing high quality potato seed,” he said.

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