Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) Testing

Potato cyst nematode (PCN), also known as potato eelworm, is the most significant pest of potatoes in the UK, costing the UK potato industry an estimated £50 million annually.  PCN attacks the roots of the potato plant which can lead to stunted growth, reduced yield and wilting.  

It is able to survive in infested soil for many years, even when no potatoes are present. Find out more about what PCN is.

Getting an accurate reading of the extent of the PCN problem on your land is key to both minimising use of chemical nematicides and safe planning of crop rotations.

Getting your soil tested for PCN

We offer an accurate soil assessment which will indicate the level of PCN cyst infestation per 100g soil and egg infestation per g of soil. This analysis will also come with an interpretation by our expert nematologists so you can understand the extent of any infestation.

To get started, you will need to order a soil sampling kit. The total cost for the kit, return postage, soil analysis and the nematologist report is £29 plus VAT.

One sampling kit will cover one hectare of land. If you need to test multiple hectares, you will need to order multiple sampling kits.

Once you submit a soil sampling kit order below, you will receive:

  • One large plastic bag per soil sample.
  • One large pre-paid postage bag per soil sample.
  • One PCN analysis form per soil sample.
  • One guidance sheet.
  • One set of labels

You should receive your kit within five working days. If you need any help with the process, please contact us at pes@adas.co.uk 

Order a PCN soil sampling kit


The data collected will only be used in relation to PCN testing. We will not send you any information beyond that requested. Your information will be managed in line with our privacy policy.

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Collecting your soil sample

Please read our sampling guidance first before you begin collecting a sample.

Sending your soil sample back to us

Once your soil sample(s) are returned to us via the pre-paid postage bag included within the kit, ADAS will provide you with an assessment of PCN levels along with with an entomology report explaining your results. You should receive this within 10 working days of us receiving your sample.


What is PCN

PCN is a microscopic worm that multiplies by forming cysts on potato roots.  Each cyst contains eggs with 200-600 larvae. When potatoes are planted in infested soil, their root exudates trigger the hatch of the larvae which then attack the potato roots.

There are two distinct species of PCN- the white PCN (Globodera pallida) and the yellow PCN (G rostochiensis).  White PCN is the most common in the UK.   

In the absence of a host potato crop, a proportion of the larvae will hatch each year, escape into the soil and die.  However there may be some eggs waiting to hatch in cysts for over 10 years and these will multiply rapidly again when a new host is planted.  

This ability of PCN to persist in soil for such a long period makes it so damaging and difficult to control.  Once present, it is usually a case of managing rather than eradicating the pest.

More information on how to manage PCN can be found on the AHDB website

Steve Ellis

Steve Ellis
Pest Evaluation Services Manager

 +44 (0)1944 738646


Why test with ADAS?

  • 10 working day turnaround time after receiving sample
  • Nematode cyst count, egg count, and variation parameters tested
  • Certified compliant with Plant Health inspectorate guidelines for PCN testing

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