Pest found in Darlington County forces some states to quarantine S.C. sweet potatoes

Pest found in Darlington County forces some states to quarantine S.C. sweet potatoes
Bumps, knots, and cracking of a sweet potato storage root from the guava root-knot nematode.

DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Sweet potatoes from two farms in Darlington County are being quarantined in two states after a pest was detected during a routine survey by Clemson University’s Department of Plant Industry.

According to a news release from the DPI, the guava root-knot nematode was detected in September 2017 and confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture this month.

“Louisiana has prohibited the import of fresh market sweet potatoes and sweet potato seeds and slips from South Carolina. The state also is blocking the entrance of soil from South Carolina. In addition, all South Carolina commercial planting and harvesting equipment entering Louisiana must be accompanied by a DPI-issued certificate of inspection. All South Carolina nursery stock entering the state must have a soil sample and certificate from DPI indicating the sample is free of the nematode,” the release states.

Mississippi has applied the same restrictions, but specific to Darlington County rather than statewide.

Steven Long, DPI assistant director for plant protection and organic certification, said farmers of the fields where the nematode was found are cooperating and restricting crop and equipment movement where it could present a risk for pest spread.

Long added DPI will conduct a statewide, two-part survey to determine how widespread the nematode is in South Carolina. DPI will issue its findings shortly after the survey is completed, the release states.

The guava root-knot nematode is considered to be the most damaging root-knot nematode in the world “because of its wide host range, aggressiveness, and ability to overcome the resistance that has been developed against root-knot nematodes in many crops,” according to the LSU Ag Center.

Because the quarantine could expand to other states, DPI has launched a web page where updates will be posted.

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