A simple and sensitive method was developed to replace the need for complex and laborious DNA extraction to remove inhibitory substances in potato tuber peel extract before detection of Erwinia carotovora subsp. atroseptica (Eca) by PCR. Eca was enriched by a factor of 105 when peel extract was inoculated onto a selective medium, CVP, and incubated at 27°C for 24 h. Bacterial micro-colonies which developed were suspended in 500 μl of water and the bacteria diluted in water 100-fold, or 10-fold followed by washing by centrifugation, before PCR testing. The sensitivity of detection obtained with the former was ca 101–102 cells ml−1 and with the latter ca 101 cells ml−1, when different numbers of streptomycin-resistant Eca strain were added to peel extract from three Eca-free potato cultivars. The method was validated and the sensitivity confirmed relative to two different commonly used Eca detection methods using naturally contaminated tubers.