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Tackling Phylloxera Program

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.

 

Tackling Phylloxera Program

$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:

  • To empower and galvanise grape growers to manage phylloxera on-farm using only best practice measures.
  • For government to collaborate with the wine industry to deliver sustainable and long-term improvements to the current phylloxera management program which is administered by Agriculture Victoria.

There are six projects funded by the $1 million investment:

  1. To develop and adopt innovative, science based protocols and procedures to enable rapid and accurate phylloxera diagnostics.
  2. To develop a strategic long-term plan for phylloxera management in Victoria.
  3. To explore the barriers to grower, and associated supply chain participants’ adoption of best practice phylloxera management.
  4. To undertake a state wide awareness program aimed at improving business adoption of on-farm biosecurity best practice measures.
  5. To undertake a review of the alignment of the Victorian Viticulture Biosecurity Committee with industry expectations and ensure that these closely align to the core objectives the Wine Ministerial Advisory Committee (WineMAC).
  6. To undertake vineyard inspections to enable gazettal of the Mornington Peninsula region as a Phylloxera Exclusion Zone (PEZ) and have the region recognised as such by industry and trading partners.

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:

  • reduced phylloxera spread in Victoria as a result of enhanced uptake of on-farm best practice phylloxera management measures
  • reduced economic and regulatory burden on industry
  • improved market access through enhanced on-farm biosecurity measures to contain and prevent further spread of phylloxera to other regions
  • increased industry participation and support in coordinating the management of phylloxera in their regions, including support for other rezoning programs
  • improve phylloxera management through the implementation of innovative technologies that enable rapid and accurate phylloxera diagnostics
  • increased state wide awareness of phylloxera as a major biosecurity threat
  • reduced regulatory burden on growers in the Mornington Peninsula region.

The Tackling Phylloxera Program is expected to close by June 2020.

 

Phylloxera adults, crawlers and eggs on a match head. Adults are about 1mm in length.