Phylloxera strikes again

Phylloxera-affected vine root.

Agriculture Victoria has announced the third new detection of phylloxera in the Yarra Valley since February.

The latest detection, at Seville, has prompted a proposed increase in the Maroondah Phylloxera Infested Zone (PIZ) to include parts of Seville, Seville East and Woori Yallock.

This case followed alerts of phylloxera detections at Coldstream on 28 March and St Andrews on 1 March.

Phylloxera is a soft-bodied insect pest that eats grapevine roots, which can kill the plant.

Australian grape-growing regions fall into three management zones: Phylloxera Exclusion Zones (PEZ) are free of the pest; Phylloxera Risk Zones (PRZ) are of unknown status; and Phylloxera Infested Zones (PIZ) contain vineyards known to be or have been infested.

Vinehealth Australia CEO Inca Pearce and technical manager Suzanne McLoughlin visited Agriculture Victoria on 11 June to discuss these phylloxera incursions and to highlight the need for the national wine and grape industries to learn about why phylloxera might be spreading in Victoria.

This meeting also involved discussions on broader phylloxera activities being undertaken by Agriculture Victoria, including rezoning projects.

Australian Grape and Wine has established a new Wine Biosecurity Committee.

Improving phylloxera management in Australia will be a key priority of this group.

“These new outbreaks underline the ongoing threat that phylloxera poses,” Australian Grape and Wine chief executive Tony Battaglene said.

“As an industry, we must agree on how to better manage phylloxera.

“And vineyard owners around Australia must be ever-more vigilant with farm-gate hygiene practices.”

Australian Grape and Wine said vineyard owners, winemakers and all those involved in grape and wine production should be informed about biosecurity issues and regulations.

There are biosecurity regulations for importing grapevine planting material, machinery and equipment used in vineyards, grapes, grape products and vineyard soil.

Footwear and clothing can pick up and spread phylloxera, but people movement is not regulated.

It’s up to each vineyard to implement best-practice farm-gate hygiene for phylloxera.

Vineyard owners should report any unusual growth symptoms or pests to Vinehealth Australia on (08) 8273 0550 or the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Identifying something unusual early can limit its spread and increase the chance of eradication.

Mandatory reporting of phylloxera in every state is required by law.

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