Area freedom from potato cyst nematode

Page last updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2018 - 12:27pm

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Potato cyst nematode (Globodera rostochiensis, PCN) was detected on six properties in the Perth Metropolitan area between 1986 and 1989.

Strict quarantine protocols were immediately put in place and an eradication campaign was established. After 24 years of continued surveillance, eradication of the nematode from Western Australia was confirmed. Area freedom from PCN was successfully reinstated in 2010. This was a world first.


1986: discovery

Potato cyst nematode (PCN) identified on a farm near Perth, Western Australia (first time in Australia). Infested properties fumigated and quarantined immediately and a state-wide surveillance and eradication campaign commenced.

1986–1989: detection and eradication

Confirmation of six infested properties covering about 15ha. Quarantine and crop testing begun to prevent possible spread. Deep burial of crop wastes. Movement of potatoes, machinery and equipment prohibited into other growing areas.

National and international market restrictions imposed on Western Australian potatoes.

1989–2010: verification of eradication

Fork and soil testing has been conducted for all potato crops grown in Perth area since 1989.

Surveys were conducted across Western Australia including soil tests, fork tests, machinery and bin inspections. More than 31 000 tests were carried out  from 1989 to 2010. These intensive surveys did not detect any further infestations of potato cyst nematode. The last potato cyst nematode detection in Western Australia was in 1989.

Resistant potato varieties were adopted by industry. These were first mandatory within the PCN quarantine area, then widely adopted elsewhere.

2006–2010: confirmation of area freedom

To confirm the absence of potato cyst nematode from Western Australia, a joint State and Commonwealth funded project occurred to:

  • examine statewide historical records for potato cyst nematode surveys and tests conducted over 24 years
  • conduct targeted intensive state wide surveys of all current potato production areas for potato cyst nematode
  • conduct surveys and bioassays of originally infested sites.

Protocols utilised were more intensive than any other country at the time.

More than 2.9 tonnes of soil yielding 27kg of organic matter processed and examined minutely. Bioassay tests conducted on soil from the originally infested properties verified no viable PCN cysts.

World first successful eradication of a major international pest.

2010 ⇒: communication of success!

Evidence provided to interstate and overseas regulatory authorities, buyers of seed and ware potatoes and industry, via official notifications, media, events and scientific journals.

Area freedom must be maintained through continued surveillance and routine monitoring. Re-introduction of PCN into WA must be prevented by maintaining national and international phytosanitary controls.

Improved reputation and sales for WA potato industry was the outcome of achieving PCN area freedom.


Funding from the i) Agricultural Produce Commission - Potato Producers Committee, ii) the Commonwealth Government through Horticulture Innovation Australia and, iii) Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia is gratefully acknowledged.

Contact information

Sarah Collins
+61 (0)8 9368 3612


Sarah Collins