07 Aug 2020
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There is an abundance of information and advice on identifying, managing and minimising the risk of viruses in the vineyard, but what is the gold standard in Australia?

A proposed Wine Australia-funded Best Management Practice Guide hopes to provide the answers.

There are now 90 grapevine viruses on the global map, with at least a dozen detected in Australia.

Grapevine leafroll-associated viruses (GLRaV) head the list of viruses of greatest economic threat to the Australian wine sector. GLRaV infections can reduce vigour, lower cane pruning weight, reduce fruit quality and reduce yield. These effects are being seen more and more in Australian vineyards, providing a challenge for growers and wine companies.

Image: AdobeStock

To address this, Wine Australia is calling for proposals to develop a Best Management Practice guide for managing viruses in established vineyards, and new vineyard plantings as well as in nurseries. The guide will contain the latest research information and can be used by grapegrowers and viticulturists to identify, monitor and manage viruses (and their vectors) in vineyards and restrict the spread of grapevine viruses.  

A draft National Standard for the Propagation and Supply of grapevines will also be developed in consultation with the sector to provide an agreed position on maintaining the supply of clean planting material. Alongside this, there will also be work to scope the key knowledge gaps around grapevine viruses and their impact in Australia to help guide future research investment. 

Key wine sector figures say an Australian-specific guide would be a welcome addition to the current stable of information on viruses.

‘The successful management of grapevine viruses will aid the Australian wine community to achieve the full potential of our vineyards and wine’, said Ben Harris, Viticulture Manager Australia and New Zealand for Treasury Wine Estates.

‘Further research will help us understand the relationship of grapevine viruses and their impact in isolation and when present with other viruses. It’s important we understand the risks and potential impact.’

Ben said Treasury Wine Estates has been working with global leaders in virus and vector research and management to establish best practice to reduce the risk of pathogenic grapevine viruses – and sharing their learnings to improve awareness within the Australian wine community.

‘We are currently working with nurseries to minimise the risk of viruses, focusing on the health of the source blocks; and have established programs to monitor for pathogenic grapevine viruses and vectors.

‘We have also increased the focus on our vineyard establishment practices to reduce the risk of grapevine viruses, including source blocks, propagation, pre-planting preparation and regular virus and vector scouting post-planting.’

Keep on top of grapevine viruses

There are three simple measures growers can take to monitor and keep on top of viruses:

  • For new vineyards, work with your nurseries to ensure you minimise the risk of planting material infected by virus. It’s also important to understand the virus and vector status of neighbouring vineyards and, if replanting, the previous vineyard – due to the risk of vectors carrying over the virus to the new vineyard. The health of the planting material and the management in the first few years is critical for the long-term success of the vineyard.
  • Monitor for visual symptoms of disease in vines regularly and test anything of concern. It’s important you understand if you have any grapevine viruses and identify the virus quickly to minimise the impact on your property and your neighbours.
  • Monitor for vectors regularly to identify the risk of vector-borne diseases being brought onto your property.

The request for proposal for the ‘Best Practice Management of Grapevine Viruses in Australia’ will open on 17 August 2020, with details available on the Wine Australia website.


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