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RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has established Berkeley and Jasper counties in South Carolina as quarantine areas for the sweet potato weevil after the highly destructive pest was trapped on wild morning glory by South Carolina regulatory officials. The quarantine is effective immediately.

Under the quarantine, the movement of certain sweet potato-related articles from Berkeley and Jasper counties in South Carolina is prohibited or regulated. This includes sweet potato roots, potatoes and plants including ornamental sweet potato plants, sweet potato vines, and vines or roots of other plants belonging to the morning glory family.

Sweet potato weevils are generally considered the most serious threat to this crop, inflicting damage to plants and tubers alike.

“North Carolina is the number one producer of sweet potatoes in the country, generating more than $198 million in farm receipts annually, so our sweet potatoes farmers stand to lose a great deal if this weevil spreads into non-infected areas,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Establishing a quarantine where we know this pest exists is the best bet to halt its movement.”

NCDA&CS has an extensive trapping program in place to detect the presence of this pest as quickly as possible within North Carolina, said Phil Wilson, director of the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division. Traps are placed in sweet potato fields each year with a minimum of two traps on each field at a rate of one trap per 10 acres and they are monitored throughout the growing season. Staff also conduct inspections in storage and processing facilities, greenhouses and micro propagation sites.

“We continue to work with our South Carolina counterparts to ensure sweet potato weevil or regulated articles are not moved in North Carolina from these new positive counties” Wilson said.

If sweet potato producers have questions regarding the sweet potato weevil program, they can contact the Plant Industry Division at 1-800-206-9333.

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