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New rootstocks for Australian conditions


Summary

Objective

To assess how well newly developed rootstocks perform in the field and to develop new tools to speed up future rootstock breeding programs.

Background

New rootstocks have recently been bred to overcome nematode susceptibility, salt accumulation, excessive vigour and poor fruit quality; all issues with some commonly used rootstocks. Glasshouse trials of the new rootstocks have been promising. The performance of these rootstocks in the field, however, has not been fully explored; nor has the impact on wine style been investigated.

Understanding which rootstock genes are involved in expressing desirable viticultural and winemaking properties and developing DNA markers for the genes to select these traits will enable future breeding programs to focus on production of elite material. Early screening is a rapid tool that has potential to assist this process and improve rootstock selection breeding programs.

Research approach

This project will assess the field performance of newly developed rootstocks in South Australia and Victoria over four years. Key measurables will include yield, vigour, berry and wine quality. Early screening methods and markers to identify rootstocks with low potassium uptake, salt tolerance, drought tolerance, and phylloxera and nematode resistance will be assessed as part of this process.

Rootstocks which perform well in this first phase will be tested in a number of warm and cool climate areas, encompassing a range of pest pressures, soil types, irrigation regimes and abiotic stresses.

Sector benefits

The rootstocks and knowledge generated by this project will enable grapegrowers and winemakers to select planting material best suited to their conditions and intended wine style. Production benefits will be realised through reduced impacts of soil-borne pests, drought, salinity, and nutrient deficiencies that will flow through to improved fruit quality and ultimately wine quality.