Intensive agriculture and horticulture is especially vulnerable to outbreaks of new pests and diseases. Farmers and growers monitoring their crops on a day to day basis play a critical role in detecting new pests and diseases at an early stage. This provides the best opportunity to prevent their establishment in the wider environment and causing serious economic damage.

The Northern Ireland Risk Register can be a valuable source of intelligence for the industry in identifying new outbreaks.

Root knot nematode (Meloidogyne) damage in oats
Root knot nematode (M. naasi) damage in oats

Current risks

Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD)

Male spotted wing drosophila is distinguished from other species by a distinct spot on each wing
Male spotted wing drosophila is distinguished from other species by a distinct spot on each wing

The spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is a major threat to soft fruit, stone fruit, tomatoes, vines and other crops and could cause serious losses in the UK if not controlled. Its presence in the UK has been idenitified and was confirmed in September 2012. It is now present in all fruit growing areas of England.

Colorado beetle

Adult Colorado beetle
Adult Colorado beetle

The Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) is a serious pest of potato, present in the EU, but absent from the UK. In May 2015 there was a UK finding linked to imported French potatoes. As well as entering the UK on potatoes, beetles are also occasionally imported as hitchhikers on non-host plant material, such as leafy vegetables, salad leaves, fresh herbs and grain.

Ralstonia solanacearum (race 1)

Wilting symptoms on young shoots of Rosa plants in greenhouse. Photo courtesy of Netherlands Plant Protection Organisation
Wilting symptoms on young shoots of Rosa plants in greenhouse.

R. solanacearum
(race 1) has a wide host range and can cause brown rot in potatoes, but pathways for the spread of infection between glasshouse horticulture and potato crops are unlikely. R. solanacearum (race 1) is mainly spread through movement of infected planting material and via contaminated water. Symptoms seen include stems with black discoloration and necrosis, chlorotic and wilting leaves. 

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