Protect your industry – identify and report grape pests
The establishment and spread of destructive pests and diseases continues to be a concern for the grape industry. With increasing international trade and tourism, the threat of exotic pests or diseases making their way to Western Australia is real. The capacity to efficiently deal with such issues is enhanced by early detection.
Early detection relies on good surveillance but broad scale surveillance is very costly. Community surveillance, utilising grape growers, their families, those working in the grape industry and the general community, can be a much more efficient method if well organised. Surveillance and reporting has to be relatively simple to encourage activity and all reports need to be verified to ensure integrity.
The Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) has developed and released MyPestGuide Grapes which is an identification and reporting tool that focusses on wine, table and dried grape pests and diseases.
MyPestGuide Grapes is an easy to use application, designed for mobile devices, that helps you identify pests and diseases on your grapevines and allows quick reporting, recording and mapping. All reports sent in are verified and responded to, thereby ensuring integrity.
Learn more about pests and diseases of grapevines, including more common pests, biosecurity threats and beneficial organisms. The app includes images, descriptions and basic control information. Pests and diseases can be searched by damage caused or pest description. It can be personalised with your favourite pests and will operate outside of mobile or Wi-Fi reception once installed.
MyPestGuide Grapes is designed for use by commercial growers, consultants and small scale growers alike.
MyPestGuide Grapes is the latest member of the MyPestGuide suite, joining MyPestGuide Crops and MyPestGuide Reporter. The MyPestGuide app development is part of the Boosting Biosecurity Defences project led by DAFWA and made possible by Royalties for Regions.
When combined with MyPestGuide Reporter, MyPestGuide Grapes becomes a powerful surveillance tool where both industry and the community can become many eyes or ‘pest detectives’ in the lookout for exotic biosecurity threats. Such threats could reduce the viability of our grape industries by increasing the cost of production, affecting market access, or reducing the capacity to grow grapevines completely.
All growers of grapevines are encouraged to report any pests and diseases seen on grapevines using the app. This helps to not only build a picture of the incidence of existing pests and diseases, but also creates confidence and normality in the use of the apps so should an unknown pest or disease be seen, reporting will be automatic.
To make a pest report online or view verified reports on a map, visit mypestguide.agric.wa.gov.au
Download the apps and start identifying and reporting pests and diseases on your grapevines now!
WA wine export market development
Western Australia has achieved a significant increase in its premium regional wine exports this year.
The value of bottled wine exports from January to September 2015 had increased 21% on the same period last year. With the October–December quarter usually the strongest, exports are on track to reach around $44 million in 2015.
This is our best result since 2012 when exports grew 30% to $44.8 million mainly due to growth in exports to China which became our largest export market. In the following two years exports to China slowed and then declined as Xi Jinping’s anti-gifting policy started to bite.
Exports to China have grown 49%, the United Kingdom increased 40%, Singapore rose 26%, Canada 34% and our wine exports to Japan more than doubled this year. Although our wine exports to Hong Kong decreased by 7% and the United States by 10%, our premium price segment grew strongly in all markets.
Fine wines (super-premium, ultra-premium and icon) are the fastest-growing segments of the global wine market, where WA performs the best and is the most profitable for producers. Fine wines are exported in the above $10 per litre, $20 to $50 per litre, and above $50 per litre price segments. The average export value of bottled WA wine in our main markets was: Japan $13.82 per litre, Singapore $12.91 per litre, USA $11.93 per litre, Canada $10.30 per litre, UK $8.80 per litre, HK $8.52 per litre and China $7.12 per litre.
The strength of the WA wine industry is in the premium market, alongside wines from the great wine-producing regions of the world, such as Bordeaux and Burgundy in France, the Napa Valley in the United States, and Marlborough in New Zealand.
Margaret River and Great Southern account for more than 80% of premium wines exported from WA. Although all of our wine regions, sub-regions and nearly 50% of producers are involved in export, just a few leading producers dominate exports. The distribution of export price point segments for each of our major wine regions is shown in Figure 1. Margaret River and Pemberton are high value regions focusing supply on the $10-$20 per litre and over $20 per litre segments.
These figures suggest that while not all producers export there is room to increase export volumes and price points. All WA producers benefit from the development of export markets.
With industry’s aim of doubling the value of wine exports by 2018 and sustaining this growth for the next 10 years, the department has been focusing resources and effort in the following two initiatives.
International Marketing Program
The department and industry (Wines of WA, regional associations and producers) have partnered in the International Marketing Program 2011-2017. The program has delivered export market development activities aimed at increasing the awareness of our fine regional wines in our key markets and building in-market relationships. These include China/Hong Kong, USA/Canada, UK and Singapore, and potentially Japan, South Korea and South East Asia. The program includes a range of in-market and in-bound activities and events involving trade, media, wine educators and market influencers. The program has helped build strong relationships with key influencers who are now our WA wine ambassadors in Asia.
This program of initiatives has contributed to the increased exports this year. Recent successful initiatives included visits by producers and representatives of the Margaret River Wine Association to China (Shanghai and Chengdu) and Hong Kong, and by the Great Southern Wine Association and its members to Singapore, to promote our regional fine wines at a series of masterclasses, media and trade tastings, and wine dinners.
Wines of WA also facilitated media and buyer tastings which included:
- UK distributors ABS Wine Agencies: from this tasting, four WA producers secured representation in the UK market.
- Le Pan Magazine: a new publication aimed at high-end consumers in Hong Kong and China. Australasian editor, Sophie Otton toured WA wine regions over a five-day period, tasting wine in Geographe, Margaret River, Great Southern and Perth. Accompanying her on the trip were Peter Forrestal and Erin Larkin.
Premium wine export market development strategy
The WA wine industry has recognised the significant opportunity to grow premium wine exports. WA exports only 13% of wine produced compared to our key competitors New Zealand at 68% and Barossa at 32%. We are very small players globally supplying 1% of Australia’s and 0.06% of global wine exports. For these reasons, key members of the industry have recognised the opportunity to strategically develop key export markets and channels, and the need for market presence and potentially an in-market joint approach.
The department and industry are working to develop a more targeted and greater resourced premium wine export development strategy to achieve these aims. The strategy will support new collaborative and coordinated ways of doing business within the industry, and with our customers, value chain partners and consumers.
The new strategy for future growth in wine exports will build on the success of our leading wine exporters and regions and help build the capability of all our fine wine producers and regions to export.
For more information on these initiatives, contact DAFWA Grape and Wine Project Manager Glynn Ward.
Export promotion opportunity
During the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Fair in November, Director General Rob Delane signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (HKTDC) to link WA export-ready agricultural and food businesses with new market opportunities.
The MOU aims to promote economic growth and business development, and enhance trade promotion. To celebrate the MOU, a special free 12-month listing online promotion package is available for 100 Western Australian export companies. These food and beverage export companies will be listed in the "Western Australia Featured Suppliers Zone" on www.hktdc.com to enhance exposure of their businesses.
The Western Australian export companies should not be existing advertisers on www.hktdc.com and can only enjoy this online promotion package once during the validity period of the MOU.
Please note that this is a Business to Business (B2B) platform so it won’t generate the amount of enquiries as some of the Business to Customer (B2C) e-commerce sites, but will provide another way to promote your Western Australian wines to trade buyers around the world.
If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity to be listed on the WA Featured Suppliers Zone on the HKTDC website please contact Carolyn Hine.
Insects and mites update
Apple looper – update on investigation to assess pheromones
As mentioned in the last edition of the WIN, the project to assess whether pheromone traps can be used to monitor moths of apple looper commenced in September.
Four to five replications of traps baited with each of seven different blends of pheromones were deployed at three sites – two organic apple orchards, in the Perth Hills and Manjimup, and one vineyard in the Carbanup area.
The traps were checked weekly for apple looper moths and foliage and flower clusters/fruitlets checked on the same day for the larvae.
Very few moths were caught in the pheromone traps. To some extent, this reflected the low abundance of looper larvae from the observations in the foliage of grapevines and apple trees where traps were located. However, nearby trees and vines were infested with looper larvae at levels considered high enough to warrant use of insecticide.
The conclusion from the study was that the pheromones used were not sufficiently attractive for the detection of looper moths.
If pheromones are to be used to warn of impending damage to grape and apple crops by apple looper larvae, consideration needs to be given to identifying the chemistry of the natural pheromone so that a synthetic compound can be produced.
A full report on this project will be available in early 2016.
Six-spotted mite – the experience with predatory mites in avocado orchards in 2015
This season, six avocado orchards in the Pemberton area were monitored to prevent a re-occurrence of defoliation experienced in spring – early summer 2014 by six-spotted mite. Being deciduous, grapevines typically don't experience premature defoliation early in the season, therefore the experience of applying miticide and introducing predatory mites in avocado orchards may have some relevance to managing six-spotted mite in vineyards.
It was found that early monitoring across orchards was critical in recognising infestations early enough to take action with a miticide application to prevent significant levels of defoliation. Unlike the reasonably obvious mite feeding symptoms present on leaves of grapevines, infestations on avocadoes require monitoring for the mites themselves because leaf feeding symptoms are much more subtle.
Release of two species of predatory mites on a small number of infested avocado trees in January 2015 were checked for predatory mite survival and effect on the pest mite. While populations of six-spotted mite increased to levels higher than nearby trees that were sprayed, the predatory mites survived in the release trees and seemed to keep pest mite numbers below levels that prevented the trees from dropping leaves.
Severe defoliation of avocado trees occurred in areas where the pest mites were not detected early enough or were detected but a spray was not applied early enough. This latter situation is a reflection of the inexperience we have with infestations of this pest mite in avocados.
If vignerons experiencing consistent problems with six-spotted mite and wish to experiment with predatory mites, the species used were Metaseiulus occidentalis and Neoseiulus californicus. These are available from suppliers listed on the Australian Biological Control website.
Grape and wine workshops tour the regions
DAFWA recently hosted half day workshops in Margaret River and Mount Barker. Titled ‘Grape and Wine Updates’, these workshops tend to be held annually or at least every second year to present information on research and development activities relevant to WA wine producers.
The focus of this year’s program was on providing grape growers and winemakers a progress report on the Wine Australia funded national project ‘Assessing clonal variability in Chardonnay and Shiraz for future climate change’.
Being its second year of activity, WA Chief Investigator Richard Fennessy presented data collected from a number of Chardonnay and Shiraz clones being grown in Margaret River and Mount Barker from the 2014/15 season. Attendees were also given the unique opportunity to taste wines produced from the same clones grown in an array of different climatic wine regions around Australia.
Attendees of the Margaret River workshop tasted and compared Chardonnay clones that were grown in both Margaret River and the Riverland to compare how the respective clones performed in the two distinct climatic regions. Similarly, Shiraz clones grown in Margaret River and Barossa were also tasted and compared.
As the Great Southern is a cooler wine region the tasting was structured differently for the Mount Barker workshop. Those who attended were able to taste and compare the same Chardonnay clones grown in Mount Barker and Margaret River. As with the Shiraz clones, wines from Margaret River and the Grampians (Victoria) were presented.
An informal survey of preferences at each workshop tasting showed the Margaret River winemakers had a strong preference for the Gingin Chardonnay clone whilst the Mount Barker winemakers equally preferred the French clone 277.
Also on the workshop program was DAFWA’s Senior Entomologist Stewart Learmonth who gave tailored presentations to both regions based on their different pest pressures. Stewart spoke of progress on the development of a pheromone for apple looper, the european earwig life cycle and management options; apple weevil damage in vineyards, grape leaf rust mite and detailed a new product for controlling mealybug.
At each of the workshops a new online biosecurity surveillance and diagnosis tool for pests and diseases was introduced. DAFWA Development Officer Alec McCarthy was on hand to give an overview of this new tool for WA grape growers and demonstrated some the key functions of the app.
Larry Jorgenson (CEO, Wines of WA) spoke at both workshops giving an update of the key activities and initiatives from the state body. A key focus of Larry’s presentation was providing background and a progress report on the formation of an APC funding model for the WA wine industry.
Presenting only at the Margaret River workshop was Curtin University’s Dr Amir Abadi. Dr Abadi presented work from a past Curtin PhD student who had recently completed a thesis examining how the use of precision viticulture tools can assist in identifying and ultimately reducing management costs.
Attendance numbers were down from previous years which is hoped not to be a reflection of the Western Australian wine industry’s interest in research and development. The feedback for those who did attend the workshops showed that they received value from attending and enjoyed the range of different topics presented.
Next year the workshops will be held in the same regions and an extensive tasting of clonal wines from WA, SA and Vic will feature again.
Getting started with soil health
Dr Fran Hoyle is a senior research scientist with the Department of Agriculture and Food WA and has a background in agronomy and soil biology. Fran spoke about soil health earlier in the year at a field day hosted by South West Catchments Council (SWCC) near Busselton. This article summarises the key points from that field day.
A healthy soil is essentially one that has no constraints. It has a physical structure, chemical properties and biological function that fit the requirements of the plants you are trying to grow. It is also resilient to stress such as drought. So when you are considering soil health, you should be asking what your plants need and compare that to what your soil is providing to determine constraints to production.
Soil organic matter and soil biology drive a lot of the functions that underpin production systems. For example, they are the primary drivers of nutrient availability. Soil organic matter provides nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur and potassium; and soil biology converts these to plant available forms. Soil biology produces by-products such as bacterial glues and fungal hyphae that can increase soil aggregation and maintain soil structure in heavier clay soils.
Soil organic matter is particularly important in sandy soils with little clay. Clay is an important component of soil because it has the capacity to hold cations (e.g. calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium) and water. When clay is absent, soil organic matter can provide this function.
But attainable levels of soil organic carbon are constrained by soil type (usually lower for sandy soils) and climate (rainfall and temperature affects biomass production and organic inputs). Fran suggested growers benchmark themselves with others in the region and industry to determine their own target levels (see soilquality.org.au).
Soil carbon can be increased by addressing soil constraints which should lead to increased production of organic biomass. Diversifying crops to provide an array of organic substrates can increase the diversity of biological communities and increase resistance to disease.
Another option to increase soil carbon is to buy in organic matter, but this is not always economical. Increasing soil carbon can take decades, and if inputs are not maintained, carbon levels will revert back to climate and soil induced baseline levels.
So what might be constraining production? One of the core soil constraints is soil acidity which can affect nutrient availability and soil biology. Other factors can also constrain production of organic matter such as soil compaction, nutrient imbalance and disease.
As far as the impact of chemicals on soil biology goes, the jury is still out. Research suggests that impacts can vary widely and generalisations are hard to make. The trend seems to be towards short-term impacts (e.g. 5 weeks) to diversity and biological activity but that may not affect overall abundance or biological function.
Fran encouraged growers to take a strategic approach to improving soil health, suggesting that they first find the primary constraints to the specific production system and base decisions around that.
SWCC has released a two part video explaining key aspects of soil health. The short video clips titled ‘Getting started with soil health’, feature Dr Fran Hoyle. Part 1 and 2 are available on the SWCC YouTube Channel.
These videos are a great resource for growers who want to understand how to assess and manage their own soil health.
The event was supported by the South West Catchments Council, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.
Talking wine science with school students
Earlier this month year 9 and 10 students at Boyup Brook District High School were treated with a presentation from DAFWA grape and wine research officer Richard Fennessy. As part of the CSIRO led national project ‘Scientists in Schools’ (SMiS), Richard gave students an introduction into wine and sensory science bringing an understanding of real world science and inspiring the next generation of scientists.
Starting with an overview on how wine is made, students were then given an understanding of the chemistry behind wine aroma. This included an explanation on the origin of aromatic compounds found in wine and how interactions with yeast, enzymes and acid influence the forms of such compounds (i.e. non-volatile vs volatile).
Following this, the human olfactory system was explained and discussed so students could understand the physiology involved in the sense of smell and how aromas are recognised.
With an understanding of the chemistry and biology involved in sensory recognition, the students were then tasked with a practical exercise to test their aroma recognition skills. Utilising a Le Nez du Vin® aroma kit, students were asked to match vials of different aromas to certain descriptors. This provided a fun and interactive classroom exercise.
The presentation also included an overview of the Australian and Western Australian wine industry in terms of economic importance. Richard also spent time talking about his role with DAFWA giving students an insight into a real life example of a career that involves both science and agriculture.
Opportunities in a new climate - AWRI workshop
The AWRI is taking a coordinated, national approach to disseminating current technical information about greenhouse gas emissions, carbon storage and the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) to the Australian grape and wine sector. Topics to be covered include:
- Entwine Australia – new and improved program, carbon calculator and regional benchmarking
- Climate and the wine industry
- Opportunities for the grape and wine sector in the Emissions Reduction Fund
- A novel use for grape marc – methane mitigation
- Greenhouse gas abatement in viticulture – results of nitrogen use efficiency trials in vineyards
When: 8.00am - 12.00pm, Wednesday 13 January 2016
Where: Howard Park Winery, Wine Chapel, Miamup Road, Cowaramup 6284
Registration and program details can be found at awri.com.au.
Wine Marketing Conference – success through smarter marketing
Join the UniSA Business School and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science for a special one-day conference that will deliver cutting-edge wine marketing insights and the strategies of leading wine brands. The program will include short talks by leading researchers and wine industry professionals on real-world marketing issues and solutions.
When: Tuesday, 16 February 2016
Cost: $195.00 +GST
Registration and program details can be found on the events webpage.
ABARES Outlook 2016
The theme of Outlook 2016 is Investing in agriculture – growing our future. This recognises the need for ongoing investment in the agriculture sector to ensure its future success - in land to increase scale; in technology to enhance productivity; in people to ensure the skills needed to capture the opportunities of a modern industry and to create succession opportunities. On the supply side it recognises the new and increasingly diverse sources of capital available to agriculture and alternative financing models that are providing opportunities for farmers.
When: 1 – 2 March 2016
Registration costs and program details can be found on the events webpage.
The 16th Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference & Trade Exhibition
The Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference and Trade Exhibition is the premier technical event for the Australian wine industry. Held every three years since 1970, it combines an extensive program of plenary sessions, workshops, posters, student forum and social events with the industry’s most respected and extensive trade exhibition.
When: 24 – 28 July 2016
Registration costs and program details can be found on the events webpage.