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Evaluating and demonstrating new disease resistant varieties for warm irrigated regions


Summary

Objective

To determine if new grapevine varieties bred by CSIRO through marker-assisted selection techniques perform satisfactorily with respect to their resistance to downy and powdery mildew infection, ability to cope with abiotic stresses and production of wines with good sensory qualities.

To develop new knowledge on the performance and adaptation capacity of the new varieties for a warm changing climate to allow growers and winemakers to choose a variety most suitable for their production process.

Background

Breeding new grapevine cultivars with high resistance to fungal pathogens presents an opportunity to substantially reduce the use of plant protection agents, and therefore lower production costs and reduce the impact of viticulture on the environment. Resistance can be achieved by crossing suitable parent cultivars, screening for desired disease resistance and other beneficial agronomic traits, and then evaluation of superior selections and their wine making potential under field conditions for several years before release

Research approach

For this research project vines have been selected using knowledge accumulated through CSIRO’s earlier work using marker-assisted selection to choose trial varieties with improved characteristics for resistance and/or lower susceptibility to powdery and downy mildew. The 20 varieties to be studied in the project have already been established and have demonstrated superior performance at a separate site in the Barossa Valley. This will provide a reference point against which to assess their growth characteristics and performance in the warmer setting of the Riverina.

The vines will be established on vineyards at Wagga Wagga and plantings of 24 of each variety (all whites) will be monitored for their growth and fruiting characteristics during the establishment phase in Years 1 and 2, to assess their suitability and adaptation to warm irrigated wine regions. In the third year of the project, experimental winemaking and sensory analysis will be used to assess the commercial potential of the wines, with input from industry winemakers.

Sector benefits

This research will underpin continued development and optimisation of practical management strategies for trunk diseases to maintain the health and sustainability of vineyards.