Boosting Victorian grapevine biosecurity

October 23, 2023

Agriculture Victoria Research (AVR), Biosecurity and Agricultural Services (BAS), Plant Health Australia (PHA) and Wine Victoria (WV) facilitated two workshops on grapevine biosecurity in Mildura and Melbourne during September.

The workshops presented an overview of important grapevine viruses and the viruses present in Victoria, through the ‘Growing Victorian Wine into the Future’ program commissioned by Wine Victoria and funded by the Victorian Government. Kim Chalmers from Wine Victoria emphasised the importance of biosecurity and using high health status grapevine propagation material to the continued quality and productivity of the Australian wine industry.

Dr Cliff Kinotti from AVR, presented the outcomes of his survey on grapevine viruses across Victoria that were identified using high-throughput sequencing (HTS).

Dr Fiona Constable from AVR, provided an overview of grapevine viruses, highlighting the importance of testing propagation material to ensure that it was free of viruses.

Chris Bennett from Vinehealth Australia outlined the role of the South Australian Vine Improvement Association in providing high health status vine propagation material to vineyards through an extensive germplasm collection.

Dr Chris Pittock from BAS described the biosecurity activities that Agriculture Victoria would carry out in response to pests or pathogens of grapevines and advised growers to report anything unusual via the national hotline or by using the online form on their website. Early reporting is crucial to national plant biosecurity as the ability to eradicate depends on catching the pest or disease before it spreads.

Dr Carolyn Blomley, PHA’s Acting Manager EPPRD, highlighted PHA’s role in preparing for an incursion of exotic grapevine pests and diseases and explained how the national emergency response arrangements would be activated under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) to eradicate an exotic pest or disease. Participants were introduced to some of the High Priority Pests (HPPs) identified in the Grapevine Biosecurity Plan and the resources available to help growers better mitigate risk through the adoption of improved vineyard biosecurity practices. The availability of Owner Reimbursement Costs (ORCs) for eligible growers who have had their crops or property damaged by emergency response actions was explained. Owner Reimbursement Costs are a key part of the EPPRD and are designed to encourage early reporting of suspected Emergency Plant Pests.

The workshop was well attended by wine and table grape growers from Mildura and Swan Hill, grapevine nurseries and representatives from the Australian Table Grape Association. A second workshop was held at AgriBio, La Trobe University, in Melbourne, targeting winegrape growers from the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula.