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Home > Plants, Pests & Pest Control > Insects & Pests > Potato Cyst Nematode > PCN Survey

Potato Cyst Nematode: Survey

Funder: United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Project Partners: Minnesota Seed Potato Producers
Project Period: 9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017


The objective of this survey is to either demonstrate the absence of or to detect cyst nematodes in seed potato growing fields. Particular emphasis is given to fields where the seed potatoes may be exported to Canada as a survey is a necessary part of the export process.

By feeding on plant roots, high populations of cyst nematodes can significantly reduce crop yields. The cysts can remain viable for 20 years and are easily spread to other locations by seed tubers, farm machinery, wind and water, and are regulated by many of our export markets. Cyst nematode surveys have been implemented in Minnesota for a number of years. Fortunately, none of the targeted species have been found through survey.

These cyst nematodes are the primary targets of the survey:

  • Globodera spp. (potato cyst nematodes: G. pallida - pale cyst nematode, G. rostochiensis – golden nematode) - known to occur in New York, Idaho and several locations in Canada
  • Heterodera ciceri (chickpea cyst nematode) – not known to occur in the U.S.
  • Heterodera filipjevi (cereal cyst nematode) – has been found in Oregon
  • Heterodera latipons (Mediterranean cereal cyst nematode) – not known to occur in the U.S.
  • Punctodera chalcoensis (Mexican corn cyst nematode) – not known to occur in the U.S.

Cyst nematode species that have been detected include:

  • Cactodera spp.
  • Heterodera trifolii (clover cyst nematode)
  • Heterodera glycines (soybean cyst nematode)


The survey process is as follows:

  • Small amounts of soil are collected by hand or with a mechanical sampler from about 100 locations/acre in a grid pattern to result in a sample of approximately 5 pounds of soil per acre.
  • Samples are air-dried and then processed with a Fenwick can system to extract small organic material.
  • Extracted material is visually screened for the presence of nematode cysts.

Collecting soil samples with mechanical sampler. Photo by Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Air drying soil samples prior to extracting organic material. Photo by Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Extracting organic material with Fenwick can system. Photo by Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Preparing to screen extracted organic material for cysts. Photo by Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Two cysts. Photo by Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Close up of the anterior end of a potato cyst nematode. Photo by Ulrich Zunke, University of Hamburg, bugwood.org.

Last Updated: June 20, 2016