New phylloxera outbreak detected in Victoria

A new phylloxera outbreak has been detected within a commercial vineyard in Australia’s Yarra Valley, within a currently designated Phylloxera Risk Zone.

The phylloxera pest can be devastating to vineyards

This most recent outbreak was detected by Vinehealth Australia and Australian Grape and Wine Inc (Australian Grape & Wine) at a vineyard located in St Andrews in the Yarra Valley.

The strain of phylloxera detected has been confirmed as G1; the same as that found in the Maroondah PIZ (Phylloxera Infested Zone), also located in the Yarra Valley.

A 5km quarantine area is now in place around the infested vineyard, which abuts the north west boundary of the existing Maroondah PIZ.

Work is currently underway by Agriculture Victoria to establish a new PIZ in light of this latest outbreak (see map below), in accordance with the National Phylloxera Management Protocol.

“This latest phylloxera outbreak in Victoria is a concerning development,” said Vinehealth Australia CEO, Inca Pearce.

“It highlights the critical role that industry must play in preventing further spread. The outbreak is also clear evidence of the need for a new national management strategy for phylloxera, on which work has recently commenced. We need to do everything in our power to protect our vines and manage the risk.”

Phylloxera is an insect pest that can have a devastating impact on grapevines, affecting Vitis species. There are currently 83 endemic strains in Australia that are confined to a number of wine regions in parts of Victoria and New South Wales, representing a “major threat” to the vast majority of Australia’s vineyards that are planted on own roots, which are highly susceptible to attack by the pest.

Australian Grape & Wine CE, Tony Battaglene adds: “Pests and diseases are a major risk to the Australian wine sector. Managing this risk should remain a high priority for all grape and wine producers and Australian Grape & Wine is committed to raising biosecurity awareness across the sector.”

The newly detected outbreak. Credit: Agriculture Victoria

The organisation is urging winemakers in the region to be vigilant and to ensure preventative measures are in place to prevent the movement of pests, diseases and weeds, including phylloxera, as part of their shared responsibility for biosecurity.

This includes implementing strict farm gate hygiene practices to prevent the entry of phylloxera or other pests, diseases and weeds into your vineyard, as well as recording the wine regions where all visitors to your site (including their machinery/equipment) have been in the past three weeks, so that you can assess the risk they pose to your vines by determining whether they have been in a PIZ or PRZ.

Australian grapegrowing regions are delineated by phylloxera status into three management zones:

  • Phylloxera Exclusion Zones (PEZ) have been surveyed and found free or are declared free historically.
  • Phylloxera Risk Zones (PRZ) are of unknown status.
  • Phylloxera Infested Zones (PIZ) contain vineyards known to be or have been infested.

For more information on this most recent outbreak, click here. 

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