NC Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has approved an updated quarantine which amended regulations pertaining to the production and sales of sweet potato seed in North Carolina due to ongoing issues with Guava root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne enterolobii).
Under the updated quarantine, regulated articles are prohibited from movement to non-quarantined states unless they meet the conditions specifically outlined in the official declaration. Those conditions include:
- All sweet potato seed must be certified free of Guava root knot nematodes with a blue tag issued by the North Carolina Crop Improvement Association or other approved certifying agency, and must have a state phytosanitary certificate issued by NCDA&CS.
- All sweet potato plants must be certified free of soil and roots by NCDA&CS before leaving the quarantine area.
- Ornamental sweet potato cuttings and plants produced in soilless media will be grown under a state compliance agreement.
The only other state where Guava root knot nematode is known to occur is Florida.
Regulations regarding interstate movement of sweet potato seed, plants and vegetables for consumption are unchanged.
Guava root knot nematode is a serious pest of sweet potatoes, and can also infect cotton, soybeans, tobacco, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, watermelons and other agricultural crops. The pest impacts both crop quality and yield, with damage similar to other root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.), which moves through soil and infested roots.
Guava root knot nematode can only be detected through molecular analysis and Dr. Weimin Ye, nematode assay section chief of the NCDA&CS’s Agronomic Services Division oversees one of the few labs nationwide that has the capability to test for this pest. Farmers may contact their North Carolina Cooperative Extension Office to learn more about best management practices to prevent the spread of this destructive pest.
In October 2018, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services established an interior quarantine for all 100 N.C. counties for the Guava root knot nematode. The quarantine was updated on April 4, 2019 to strengthen restrictions for movement of regulated articles within the state.