Staff Reporter FARMERS in Sa Pobla are worried about an outbreak of the world's most damaging potato disease, potato ring rot, reaching the island. As reported briefly in yesterday's Bulletin, the virus hit a Welsh farm, and initially it was feared that affected potatoes could be exported to Majorca, the Canary Islands and other parts of Spain. Experts have been talking to Spanish authorities about two consignments exported to the Canary Islands, but it is believed that none of the crop will reach Majorca. The local potato crop was badly hit by adverse weather conditions, and the farmers missed out on the early potato export season, and an outbreak of ring rot would, they fear, wipe them out. Getting rid of the blight will cost the farm involved £400'000. The battle to stop the ring rot spreading on Middlewood farm in Bwlch means the destruction of 1'500 tons of seed potatoes. The discovery of the disease was confirmed during an annual survey for ring rot by Defra and it is thought the disease was brought into Wales on infected Dutch seed. Government restrictions now ban any movement of potatoes on the farm in question, three other farms -- one in Wales and two in the Scilly Isles -- which had all taken delivery of seed potatoes from the Middlewood Farm over the last few weeks. Scientists will return to the farm tomorrow to test more than 80'000 samples of the potatoes. Only a small proportion is expected to show any sign of infection. The whole crop will then be destroyed at a cost to farmer John Morgan and his family of £400'000. It will then be buried or sent to a landfill site. Defra officials believe the outbreak is under control, and that it will be contained and eradicated. Although ring rot poses no risk to human health, farmers leaders in Wales had said the news is a “massive blow” to the industry. Farmers are also worried about the effect on the seed market if the UK loses its disease–free status. Lisa Francis, Welsh Conservative AM for Mid and West Wales, is asking the Environment Minister, Carwyn Jones, to make an emergency statement to the Assembly on the outbreak. She said the testing period to determine whether this disease has spread “can take up to eight weeks, it is vital that work on this starts now so that the authorities do their best to contain the disease.” She added: “Defra cannot afford to be complacent in any way on this issue. They also need to establish an investigation to determine how this disease got into the country in the first place”.