Alert on grape virus

Pinot yields un­der threat

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - DAVID BENIUK

TAS­MA­NIAN grow­ers of Pinot wine va­ri­eties will take part in na­tional test­ing for a dev­as­tat­ing new virus.

The virus, re­cently de­tected in­ter­state, can re­duce yields by 80 per cent.

The grapevine pinot gris virus was re­cently found in NSW and South Aus­tralia af­ter first be­ing iden­ti­fied over­seas in 2012.

The virus most com­monly af­fects va­ri­eties in­clud­ing Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, which make up more than half of Tas­ma­nia’s wine­grape crop that is worth $36 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

The state has built its grow­ing rep­u­ta­tion for pre­mium-qual­ity wine largely on its Pinot Noir, which is also used for award-win­ning sparkling wines.

The new virus is yet to be de­tected in Tas­ma­nia but lo­cal grow­ers will be in­vited to join ur­gent na­tional test­ing this spring.

“We’re proac­tively go­ing to be in­volved in some of that trial ac­tiv­ity,” Wine Tas­ma­nia chief ex­ec­u­tive Sheralee Davies said.

“We’re con­fi­dent there hasn’t been any de­tec­tion in Tas­ma­nia but we also know that we need to par­tic­i­pate in the tri­als to do the ap­pro­pri­ate test­ing.”

Lit­tle is known about the virus, which was first found in Italy but has also emerged through­out Europe, Asia and North Amer­ica.

How­ever, the virus has been con­firmed in at least 28 grape va­ri­eties so far.

The af­fected grape va­ri­eties also in­clude Chardon­nay, Mer­lot, Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon and Shi­raz.

The virus is thought to be trans­mit­ted by some species of mites.

Its symp­toms oc­cur at bud­burst in spring and in­clude leaf mot­tling and leaf de­for­ma­tion.

Com­mon weeds such as fat-hen can also carry the virus.

How­ever, Ms Davies said grow­ers had an ad­van­tage be­cause the virus was thought to be slow-mov­ing.

“It’s not where you might have a vine that has an is­sue and all of a sud­den all of the sur­round­ing vines there­fore have an is­sue,” she said.

“The big­gest im­pact is a re­duc­tion on yield.

“That’s cer­tainly been the ex­pe­ri­ence in the places it has been de­tected around the world.”

Screen­ing at Aus­tralian borders be­gan in 2015 and the Aus­tralian Con­sul­ta­tive Com­mit­tee on Emer­gency Plant Pests, which in­cludes Biose­cu­rity Tas­ma­nia, has met to dis­cuss the out­break.

Wine Tas­ma­nia is work­ing with Biose­cu­rity Tas­ma­nia to min­imise the chances of the dis­ease ar­riv­ing in the state.

“Biose­cu­rity Tas­ma­nia is mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion very closely,” a spokesman for the De­part­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries, Parks, Wa­ter and En­vi­ron­ment said.

“Un­til more is known about the sit­u­a­tion, no states, in­clud­ing Tas­ma­nia, have im­ple­mented new im­port re­quire­ments.

The spokesman said vir­uscer­ti­fi­ca­tion schemes were the best way to en­sure prop­a­ga­tion ma­te­rial was clean.

He said fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on the virus would be pro­vided as new de­tails are avail­able and once the tar­geted na­tional sur­veil­lance pro­gram this spring is com­pleted.

Grape pro­duc­ers are urged to be vig­i­lant for signs of the virus and to call the plant dis­ease hot­line on 1800 084 881 if they have con­cerns.

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