Published Date: 2003-11-16 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/PL> Bacterial ring rot, potato - UK (Wales): 1st report
Archive Number: 20031116.2843
BACTERIAL RING ROT, POTATO - UK (WALES): 1ST REPORT
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: 13 Nov 2003
Source: BBC News Online, 13 Nov 2003
Potato disease - more farms suspected
3 more potato farms in the UK are under restriction after the world's most
damaging potato disease was found on a mid Wales farm. The disease --
bacterial ring rot -- has never before been found in the UK.
The source is at Middlewood Farm in Bwlch, near Brecon. The disease can be
described as the potato equivalent of the epidemic foot-and-mouth disease
The discovery of the disease was confirmed during an annual survey for ring
rot by the UK Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra),
and it is thought the disease was brought into Wales on infected Dutch
seed. The additional farms now under restriction -- 1 in Wales and 2 in the
Scilly Isles -- had all taken delivery of seed potatoes from the Middlewood
Farm over the last few weeks.
Defra officials believe the outbreak is under control, and that it will be
contained and eradicated. Experts are also talking to Spanish authorities
about 2 consignments exported to the Canary Islands
Although ring rot poses no risk to human health, farmers leaders in Wales
had said the news is a "massive blow" to the industry. By comparison,
annual losses to US potato farmers caused by ring rot have been as high as
Farmers are also worried about the effect on the seed market if the UK
loses its disease-free status.
John Morgan, the farmer at the centre of this outbreak said: "Obviously
we're devastated at the news. We're working with the Welsh assembly locally
and Defra plant officials to eradicate this disease." Officers from Defra ,
the Welsh assembly, and the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate are meeting
at the farm in the Brecon Beacons to assess the extent of the problem. It
is likely crops will have to be burnt or buried.
Meanwhile, experts are trying to trace any other movement of seed potatoes
from the farm. It is known that the farm has exported to Spain and
surrounding islands and supplies a vast area of Pembrokeshire, Wales' main
potato production area.
Countryside Minister Carwyn Jones has said he is following developments
closely. "I can assure farmers that this is being taken extremely seriously
by the Welsh Assembly Government and the other authorities concerned," he said.
NFU Cymru's Malcolm Thomas said: "In terms of any wider spread, that would
be extremely bad news for the industry, as this [bacterium] is the most
potentially dangerous in the potato world."
Brecon and Radnor MP Roger Williams agreed that the priority was the
eradication of the disease. "I know the producers concerned have an
excellent reputation for crop husbandry and health, and I am sure that this
outbreak will not be traced to any negligence on their part."
[The disease is bacterial ring rot, caused by _Clavibacter michiganense_
subsp. _sepedonicus_ (Cms). Wales' potato industry is operated by 95
registered growers who farm 2000 hectares. Production amounts to 86 000
tonnes and is valued at 6.5 million BPS to the economy. Cms occurs
throughout Europe, after being identified in recent years in France, the
Netherlands, and Denmark. Defra officials consider it one of the most
serious diseases of potato. Cms is spread by infected tubers, and a major
concern for plant pathologists in Wales and other parts of the UK is the
possibility that seed potato stocks could be infected. Sanitation is the
key to disease management. Only classified seed should be used for
planting; all machinery, equipment, vehicles, containers such as potato
sacks, storage facilities such as bins, and any other possible source of
the pathogen must be identified and rigorously cleaned and thoroughly
disinfected. Finally, if possible, dispose of all potato waste at an
approved tip (dump) or by incineration.
<http://www.defra.gov.uk/planth/pestnote/rot.htm> - Mod.DH]