Potato Cyst Nematode Pest Card


This informational business-sized card created by Pete Nelson, a graduate student at North Carolina State University, who worked with the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) on a 2017 Trellis Fund project focused on "Improving food production by adopting best pest management methods."

Symptoms of a potato cyst nematode infestation

Potato cyst nematodes can reduce crop yield and quality. Above ground, potato plants infested with potato cyst nematode are stunted and have dull, yellow leaves. Below ground, roots are heavily branched and brown in color. Infestation can be confirmed by uprooting plants and inspecting for cysts and female nematodes. 

Mature female potato cyst nematodes and cysts are the only stages visible to the naked eye. They are located on potato roots and are detectable from the flowering stage until harvest. Eggs, juveniles, and males are visible only with a microscope.

Preventing potato cyst nematode infestation

The nematodes are spread through infected seed and contaminated soil, as a result to prevent infestation follow these protocols:

  • Be sure to follow all phytosanitary and quarantine regulations to minimize potato cyst nematode spread.
  • Use certified seed free of potato cyst nematodes from registered sellers to prevent spread or increase.
  • Clean and disinfect all tools, footwear, and farm equipment with water and a disinfect (example: 40% Kerol) prior to entering or upon leaving a potato field to prevent spread.
  • Prevent water runoff between fields by digging trenches and cutting off drains to prevent potato cyst nematode movement between fields in water.

Potato cyst nematode management

Potato cyst nematodes may be controlled over time with several methods. Follow these recommendations when nematodes are detected in fields:

  • Uproot infested plants and destroy them.
  • Rotate crops, alternating potato plantings with non-solanaceous crops (maize, beans, carrots) for at least 7 years.
  • Plow fields to expose potato cyst nematodes to heat and dry them out during hot months. Covering fields with plastic may help.
  • Apply pesticides, either natural or synthetic to reduce potato cyst nematodes in heavily infested fields. Consult your nearest County Agricultural Office for recommendations.


Fact sheet

Value Chain

Pest management