Virus scoping and vine health on the agenda for Limestone Coast

RD&A News | June 2021
11 Jun 2021
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Grapevine viruses pose a significant risk to the productivity, quality and sustainability of Australian vineyards.

A recent ‘hybrid event’ symposium – simulcast to both Coonawarra and Margaret River growers and winemakers – offered the latest information on grapevine viruses. The program offered participants an improved understanding of virus biology and transmission vectors and insights into the virus status in New Zealand, Limestone Coast and Western Australia. It also presented new technologies and methods for detecting viruses and practical advice on management strategies.

The free event was a collaboration between Wines of Western Australia and Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council Inc. funded through the Wine Australia Regional Program, and was presented by expert speakers from New Zealand, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, who presented both in person, and virtually.

‘Grapevine viruses are an important emerging topic and we received many requests from researchers and stakeholders asking to watch via live streaming or to see the recording’, said Ulrich Grey-Smith, the Executive Officer of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council Inc. He said the recording and final scoping report would soon be available on the Limestone Coast Wine website.

In other activities for the region:

  • A Padthaway field walk looking at mulching trails and under-vine soil health treatments was held earlier this year. The event followed the completion of the ‘Is organic weed control beneficial for winegrape production in the Limestone Coast’ project, led by a team from the University of Adelaide. The trial was conducted to better understand how non-standard weed management practices compare to undervine herbicide application in Padthaway. The trial found that immediate changes in canopy size were detectable, berry juice pH was significantly lower, and titratable acidity and yeast assimilable nitrogen was significantly higher for the mulch and compost treatments than for other treatments.
  • A trunk disease scoping survey was presented on Zoom, with questions and answers. ‘Eutypa and other trunk diseases are within our vineyards. We have some of the oldest vineyards in the world and understanding and preservation are key to keeping these iconic sites and places. Investigating the incidence, vectors and best practice techniques will help us mitigate spread and inform remedial actions to take’, said Ulrich.
  • Results from the third eutypa dieback survey, led by Mark Sosnowski and Matt Ayers from SARDI, were announced in a Zoom meeting. More than 340 blocks – many of the same blocks from the initial activity – have now been surveyed with the help of locally trained teams. Ulrich said the activity was useful in helping a wider audience identify symptoms of Eutypa dieback.

Ulrich said three activities are planned for the new financial year: vignettes showcasing extension and practice change; a ‘Managing Extreme Weather Events’ seminar in August 2021; and the fourth National Coonawarra Cabernet Symposium planned for July 2022.

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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.