New Pest Forces States to Quarantine S.C. Sweet Potatoes

A new pest detected in two farm fields in Darlington County, South Carolina has resulted in a quarantine of South Carolina sweet potatoes by Louisiana and Mississippi.

Guava root-knot nematode was detected in the Darlington County fields during a routine survey by Clemson University’s Department of Plant Industry (DPI) in September 2017 and confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January 2018.

Bumps, knots, and cracking of a sweet potato storage root from the guava root-knot nematode. Image Credit: LSU Ag Center

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.

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

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