Globodera rostochiensis, or Golden Nematode (GN), is a pest of potato. It was first detected in the United States in New York in 1941, but was likely introduced following World War 1 when contaminated military vehicles were brought back from Europe. GN is native to the Andes region of South America. Nematodes are microscopic worms that can persist in the soil for many years.
Cornell University values the potato crop in New York at $63 million. Drastic reductions in crop yield would be devastating to those growers that specialize in this single crop. If GN spreads to other production areas of the US, and to additional crops such as eggplant and tomato, the losses could be as high as $4.8 billion.
In 1944 a joint federal and state quarantine was established restricting the movement of soil and equipment that may be contaminated with GN. This quarantine has been revised numerous times over the years. Currently 147,500 acres are still regulated.
The containment quarantine has successfully prevented GN from spreading to any other state for nearly eight decades. Over 90% of the area once quarantined has now been deregulated. Over a million acres have been deregulated. In 2018, 1847 GN samples were taken from 532 acres and processed by the joint USDA/NYSDAM GN program staff. Additionally, there were 731 pieces of farm and construction equipment that were either power washed or steam treated to mitigate the spread of GN in 2018.
In order to prevent the spread of GN, vigilance needs to be maintained over mandated sanitation practices and the adherence of the grower to the resistant variety rotations. New York State law requires that any equipment leaving a regulated field be cleaned free of all soil prior to entering a non-regulated field and any grower wishing to plant potatoes in a regulated field must follow a four-year crop rotation scientifically designed to reduce the spread of GN cysts.