Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid

Infected potato tubers that are small and pointed are compared with a healthy large rounded potato

Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid (PSTVd) is a plant pest which is a serious threat to tomato and potato production in New South Wales. This disease has not been found in NSW potato crops, however during 2011 and 2012 detections of PSTVd occurred in greenhouse grown tomatoes. Infected crops were destroyed.

PSTVd is difficult to diagnose by observation alone as symptoms resemble those caused by nutrient deficiency, root disease or spray drift damage. Suspect infected plants should be diagnosed by an accredited laboratory.

An outbreak of PSTVd in potatoes could lead to production losses of between 10-60% to the NSW potato industry which has a value of around $50 million dollars annually.

Current situation

Healthy potato plants surround a plant infected with PSTVd

PSTVd has been detected in tomatoes and capsicums in Western Australia and in tomatoes and ornamentals in Queensland. The disease is being eradicated from tomatoes in South Australia. The disease has been successfully eradicated from commercial vegetable production facilities in Victoria and NSW.

PSTVd has not been reported in Australian potato crops. As part of a collaborative effort to manage the risk of PSTVd in potatoes the NSW, Victorian and South Australian state governments agreed to regulate seed potatoes and other potato propagative material entering each state.

The NSW potato industry and the NSW Seed Potato Protected Areas need protection from this disease. Regulation and disease free status will ensure continued access to domestic and international markets.

Notifiable status

Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid is a notifiable plant disease in NSW.

All notifiable plant pests and diseases must be reported within 1 working day.  You can report notifiable plant pests and diseases by one of the following methods:

A full list of notifiable plant pests and diseases can be found in Schedule 2 of the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015.

New legislation for controlled movement of seed potatoes for planting

Legislation to be adopted in NSW will be in line with Victoria and South Australia and will mitigate the risk of introducing PSTVd into NSW. This will be achieved by controlling the movement of potato propagative material, including seed potatoes, into NSW and the NSW Seed Potato Protected Areas.

Potato propagative material (including seed potatoes) will be restricted entry unless produced under a certification scheme that meets the National Standard for Certification of Seed Potatoes, or has been grown in an area free from PSTVd.

Implications for NSW potato growers

The new legislation will have little impact on seed potato growers in the NSW Seed Potato Protected Areas as the conditions imposed under the PSTVd legislation are similar to those in existing legislation for other exotic pests and diseases.

Growers outside the NSW Seed Potato Protected Areas will need to source all potato propagative material from either a state, or part of a state, with an area freedom certificate in force for PSTVd, or plant only certified seed potatoes.

How can we limit the risk of introducing PSTVd into NSW potato crops?

To minimise the risk of pests and diseases, ensure that all seed potato used for sowing is certified through an accredited program or sourced from an area free of the disease.

For more information on regulation of seed potatoes, contact Bev Zurbo Industry Liaison Officer on 02 6938 1976 or email bev.zurbo@dpi.nsw.gov.au.