Wart Disease Outbreak on the Allotments 1914
From my Litherland research material

October 27, 2000

Published in the Guardian (Charlottetown)
By Steve Sharratt

The glorious fall harvest of P.E.I. potatoes has, according to this story, taken a bit of bruising after the discovery of a pernicious fungal disease led to the lockdown of a Prince County farm this week by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Don Love of the CFIA in Charlottetown was quoted as saying Thursday that, ``This disease poses no threat to human health, only to the potato. And if properly isolated, it's a very stationary disease.'' Called the potato wart or canker, it's a disease that deforms the tuber enough to make the spud unmarketable.

Once it gets in the soil, getting rid of it is no easy task, especially since the persistent little organism has a lifespan of 40 years or more. Love was cited as declining to reveal the hot spot location, but estimated the area of investigation comprises less than an acre on a farm in western P.E.I. The farm is now under a prohibition order and a full- blown quarantine of neighbouring farms and crops is not expected. However, the story says, the discovery of the wart-sprouting fungus might have gone unnoticed if not for the sharp-eyed producer. As thousands of potatoes rolled up his harvester, the grower culled out a handful of the bizarre-looking tubers and became suspicious.

The CFIA has issued a prohibition of movement order on the farm and is investigating how the first recorded incident of the disease arrived in Prince Edward Island. The potato wart is a soil- laden disease and not spread by insects or wind. The disease is comparative to a condition resembling elephantiasis, the human deformity suffered by John Merrick and chronicled in the movie The Elephant Man.

Dr. Micheal Hampson, a retired plant pathologist with Agriculture Canada, was cited as saying its presence on Prince Edward Island should set off alarm bells, adding, ``It's called Synchytrium endobioticum. It's a nasty little thing that is incredibly resistant and can hang around for decades once it gets in the soil. It is something to worry about. I'm not trying to alarm, but this disease is very bad for potato growing. The only commercial removals are to poison the soil with copper sulphate or burn it out and that's hardly good for the soil. I'm not suggesting you do it, I'm just illlustrating how pernicious this organism is. The only thing you can do is stop growing potatoes on the infected land.''

 

 Statutory Instrument 1987 No. 1758
 The Plant Health (Great Britain) Order 1987


PART III

ADDITIONAL MEASURES TO PREVENT SPREAD OF PARTICULAR PLANT PESTS
Wart disease of potatoes
    Restrictions on the planting, sale etc. of potatoes
        34.—(1)  No person shall plant or knowingly cause or permit to be planted any potatoes on any premises in his occupation or under his charge declared infected with wart disease of potatoes.

        (2)  Subject to paragraph (3) of this article, no person shall plant or knowingly cause or permit to be planted on any premises in his occupation or under his charge—
       (a) which have been declared a safety zone by a notice served or having effect as if served under article 15(5); or
       (b) as respects premises in England or Wales, in respect of which a notification of the presence or apparent presence of wart disease of potatoes was given before the commencement of the Wart Disease of Potatoes Order 1958 by the then occupier or other person then in charge of the premises or by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food,
    any potatoes which are not of an approved immune variety, or, in the case of any premises which surround, adjoin or are in close proximity to premises on which wart disease of potatoes of any race other than the common European race is present and in respect of which an inspector so directs by notice in writing served on that person, any potatoes whatsoever except such variety or varieties, if any, as an inspector may authorise in writing to be planted on those premises.

        (3)  The provisions of paragraph (2) of this article shall not apply as respects any premises of a kind described in paragraph (2)(b) of this article if an inspector has served on the occupier or other person in charge of those premises a notice in writing declaring that the provisions of that paragraph shall not apply as respects those premises.

        (4)  No person shall remove for transplanting elsewhere from any premises declared infected with wart disease of potatoes any plants which have been grown or stored on those premises.

        (5)  No person shall sell or offer or expose for sale for planting or deliver or knowingly cause or permit to be sold, offered or exposed for sale for planting or delivered for planting or knowingly cause or permit to be planted any potatoes from a crop grown on premises declared infected with wart disease of potatoes.
    Prohibition of misdescription of potatoes
        35.—(1)  No person shall sell or offer or expose for sale or knowingly cause or permit to be sold or offered or exposed for sale as potatoes of an approved immune variety any potatoes which are not of an approved immune variety.

        (2)  A person shall not be liable to conviction for a contravention of article 34(2) if he proves to the satisfaction of the court that the potatoes were sold to him as potatoes of an approved immune variety and that he did not know that the potatoes were not of an approved immune variety.
    Restriction on the removal of soil from infected premises
        36.    No person shall remove, or knowingly cause or permit to be removed, any soil from any premises declared infected with wart disease of potatoes, so that it may be used or disposed of where that disease is not present.

Litherland & Ford Digital © Ronnie Cusworth 2002/2003/2004