The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has established an exterior quarantine for Colleton County, S.C., because of the detection of the sweet potato weevil in the county.

The quarantine prohibits the movement of sweet potatoes, roots, sweet potato plants (including ornamental plants), vines, and vines or roots of other plants belonging to the morning glory family, from Colleton County into North Carolina. The quarantine is effective immediately.

Colleton becomes the fifth South Carolina county under exterior quarantine. The others are Beaufort, Charleston, Clarendon and Florence.

NCDA&CS officials expanded the quarantine after being notified that a single sweet potato weevil had been detected in research plots in Colleton County.

“South Carolina continues to conduct statewide monitoring efforts for the sweet potato weevil, and this information is very useful in evaluating potential risks to North Carolina’s sweet potato industry,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “North Carolina remains the top producer of sweet potatoes in the country, with the 2008 crop valued at $142 million. We must continue to protect this industry from potential introductions of this destructive pest.”

NCDA&CS officials expect the exterior quarantines for South Carolina will remain in effect until the sweet potato weevil has been eradicated from the five counties. Any potential violations of the exterior quarantine should be reported immediately to the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division at (800) 206-9333.