Wine Industry Newsletter

Is grape phylloxera affecting the health and yields of your grapevines?

Grape phylloxera feeding on a grape root
 Grape phylloxera, Daktulosphaira vitifoliae (magnified) feeding on a grape root (image courtesy of K, Powell, DPI Victoria)

Is grape phylloxera affecting the health and yields of your grapevines? I hope not, as the causal insect, Daktulosphaira vitifoliae, has not been recorded in Western Australia.

But how confident are you? Have you seen groups of vines showing general decline in health? What did you do - take photos, record where and when you noticed this? Did you investigate what was causing the decline, or continue on with your current task and make a mental note to look back again later?

Grape phylloxera is one of several exotic pest issues that are considered significant concerns for grape production in WA should they become established.

It is found in many production regions around the world and one strain is established (but under containment) in some grape production zones in New South Wales and Victoria.

There are quarantine measures in place to minimise the likelihood of it being brought into WA accidentally on grape plant material, machinery or equipment.

Biosecurity procedures have been developed to assist you to minimise the likelihood of it getting onto your vineyard – the WA Viticulture Biosecurity Manual.

There are biosecurity measures in place for the containment zones in Australia to prevent grape phylloxera from spreading from these zones, yet progressively these containment zones have grown. This demonstrates that even with solid biosecurity procedures in place that nothing is 100% guaranteed. But if any new occurrences are found early enough, steps can be taken to contain (or potentially even eradicate if in a totally new area and found early enough) to minimise the impact on grape production.

This highlights the continued need for vigilance with monitoring, reporting and investigating of any unexplained health issue with your vines.

WA has the pest reporting tool, MyPestGuide Reporter to make reporting of any grapevine health issue quick and easy, so take advantage of this tool to help protect grape production. This can be taken with you into the vineyard as a mobile app on your phone, so you can make a report of any health issue on the spot, rather than try to remember to do it later.

General deterioration of a patch of grape vines within healthier vines as a result of grape phylloxera, Daktulosphaira vitifoliae infestation (image courtesy of Vinehealth Australia)

Not sure if you know what grape phylloxera or affected vine symptoms look like?

Descriptions and images of pest issues that might be found on grapes can be found in the field guide MyPestGuide Grapes.

The latest version, released in December 2017, has 200 profiles, including pest bugs, diseases (both currently found in WA and those still exotic to WA like grape phylloxera) and beneficial bugs (so you know what you don’t need to control) and comes in a handy mobile application that you can carry with you in the vineyard and an online version that you can use in the office.

Remember that biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility and the reporting of pest issues is an essential part to help protect your livelihood, the grape industry, the state’s economy and the environment.

The WA Viticulture Biosecurity Manual and the MyPestGuide suite of biosecurity tools have been developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development as part of the Boosting Biosecurity Defences project and supported through Royalties for Regions.

For further information contact Alec McCarthy, Development Officer on +61 (0)8 9780 6273