Quest for a disease-resistant vineyard continues

RD&A News | January 2021
15 Jan 2021
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Wine Australia’s Regional Program in Riverina continues its quest to determine the best grapevine cultivars with resistance to powdery mildew and downy mildew for Riverina.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries has been evaluating 20 red and 20 white disease-resistant varieties at the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre since 2013. The new disease-resistant varieties were bred by the CSIRO with funding from Wine Australia.

Growing disease-resistant grapevine varieties could reduce vineyard costs associated with fungicide inputs. The flow-on effect would minimise the risk of fruit quality downgrades due to disease infection.

Image: AdobeStock
Disease-resistant grapevine cultivars are being evaluated by the Riverina Regional Program

One hectare of disease-resistant white varieties was planted at the NSW DPI Griffith Research Station in 2018 with funding from Wine Australia’s Regional Program. The planting consists of five of the varieties that were at the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC); some are on their own roots and some were grafted onto rootstocks to examine compatibility. The red varietal block was planted earlier last year (2020).

‘Vine performance will be assessed throughout the season and fruit quality parameters will be tested’, said Dr Katie Dunne, Development Officer – Viticulture, NSW Department of Primary Industries

‘We are excited that 2021 will be the first official vintage for the own-roots section of the white demonstration block with the hope that commercial standard trial wines will be made.’

Local winemakers and growers will be invited to visit the block during vintage for a walkthrough for the purpose of gaining sector feedback.

In other projects for the Riverina Regional Program:

Irrigation efficiency

Irrigation continues to be a focus for Riverina. Currently there are six meters deployed across the region measuring total water usage focusing on Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon. Yield data will be collected from these sites and collated with previous seasons’ data.

Planning is underway to install irrigation scheduling technology at the DPI’s Griffith research station. The installations will be used for irrigation trials and will track actual water usage in a commercial setting.

‘The goal is to demonstrate how technology can aid in decision making and allow for a targeted approach for irrigation scheduling, ensuring vines have access to the right amount of water for target yield and quality’, said Katie.

Vine health

Trunk disease is becoming a focus as vines age in Riverina. Testing vines for diseases and viruses continues, with several blocks already targeted. Plans are underway for trial sites across the region to highlight best practice trunk disease management. A field day will be held before the pruning season to discuss best practice approaches for managing trunk disease.

Managing weeds

This activity is contributing to a larger project that is also being co-funded by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). The project is being led by the Irrigation and Research Extension Committee (IRAC) based in Riverina.

The Wine Australia-funded activity involves collaboration between local agronomists from the region’s leading agriculture chemical suppliers and local winegrowers to find a management solution for some of the region’s key problematic weeds. Dr Dunne said the Wine Australia-funded section of the project will look at best practice management of silver leaf nightshade and fleabane.

‘Demonstration sites have been set up across Riverina and testing for herbicide resistance is planned’, Katie said. The project is likely to be ongoing as it strives to seek viable control options for the target weeds. Field days are planned for growers wishing to visit the sites.

Acknowledgements

  • Riverina Winegrapes Marketing Board
  • NSW Department of Primary Industries
  • Riverina Winemakers

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.