The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has ended restrictions on the growing of potatoes in areas of County Down and Armagh because of the threat of potato wart disease or black scab.
Previously only varieties of potatoes immune to wart disease could be grown in these defined townland areas because of the risk of spreading the disease. That excluded the variety British Queen, popular with consumers in Northern Ireland.
Most of the disease outbreaks occurred in the 1920s and the last one was back in 1959
The process leading to the end of the ban began in spring 2000 when department staff began a program of sampling and bioassay of soil from infested land using internationally agreed protocol for determining freedom from viable sporangia of the pathogen.
The testing was completed last September.
In fields where the test program found no viable inoculum - confirming there is no longer any living Synchytrium endoboticurn present in the land or that it was below a detectable level - restrictions on growing wart-susceptible potato varieties have been abolished.
But the department warned growers that importing countries outside the European Union may not accept potatoes produced in the formerly restricted areas and advised them to check the position with their potato inspector before planting potato crops destined for export to these countries.