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Grape phylloxera is the number one threat to grapevines in Australia. European (Vitis vinifera) grapevines, which comprise the vast majority of Australian vineyards, have very little tolerance to phylloxera, which therefore represents a major threat to the industry.
Phylloxera is a very small, yellow insect that feeds on the roots, and sometimes the leaves, of grapevines. It can also move to the soil surface and up into the canopy and the fruit. Feeding by phylloxera can damage a susceptible grapevine’s root system to such an extent that the plant may die.
If phylloxera is detected in a vineyard, a quarantine zone is established to restrict the spread of the pest. This has implications for grape growers selling their grapes and limits the movement of other grape material and equipment used in their vineyards.
These restrictions impose extra costs on the grower in addition to the loss of production caused by the pest. So it is crucial to the industry that the impacts of phylloxera are minimised.
Removing unviable, infested vineyards; replanting on rootstocks resistant to phylloxera; or preventing the spread of the pest best achieves the spread of phylloxera.
$1 million has been provided via the Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund (AIJF) – Program Stream to fund the Tackling Phylloxera Program – a state wide project that aims to address the biosecurity challenges posed by phylloxera, improve productivity and allow for more efficient supply chains.
The program has two key objectives:
There are six projects funded by the $1 million investment:
For more information please watch the Tackling Phylloxera Program video
Identifying amenity vines in the region is an important aspect of the vineyard inspection process in project six. For more information on the significance of amenity vines in the fight against phylloxera, please watch the following video.
Although separate, these projects have natural synergies that perform in combination to deliver a holistic approach to better phylloxera management in Victoria’s grape growing regions. Anticipated long-term benefits of the program include:
The Tackling Phylloxera Program is expected to close by June 2020.