We don’t have Phylloxera in the Riverland so let’s keep it that way.
Phylloxera is one of the most serious biosecurity risks for the Australian grape and wine community, with the potential to destroy vineyards and cause economic disaster in rural communities.
If you are considering planting or replanting Wine Australia and Vinehealth Australia advise that you should use phylloxera resistant rootstocks for at least a portion of your vineyard to future-proof your business.
Grape phylloxera is a tiny insect pest that destroys grapevines by feeding on their roots. While there are 83 different strains of phylloxera in Australia, which all have a different impact, generally infested vines will die within six years. And the effects on yields are felt much sooner. There is no cure. Once infested, the only solution is to start again and plant on resistant rootstock.
In the 1850s, phylloxera wiped out millions of hectares of vineyards in Europe and it’s currently present in eight quarantine zones in Australia. Strict regulation has limited further spread but we can’t ignore the risk. Vinehealth Australia data shows that 74% of vineyard hectares in South Australia are planted to own-rooted vines, which means the stakes are extreme. If phylloxera spread outside the currently infested zones, those vines would be at massive risk. Planting vines grafted on phylloxera-resistant rootstock is the only way to avoid being affected. While this is more expensive than own-rooted material, it’s like an insurance policy and well worth doing. Rootstocks also provide more immediate benefits through resistance to nematodes and delivering better performance in drought and saline soils.
Wine Australia offers a free online Grape Rootstock Selector to help growers pick the best rootstocks for their vineyard and seek expert advice from their local nursery.
Vinehealth Australia also provides a range of resources on farmgate hygiene and rootstocks with resistance to key phylloxera strains on their website.
Protecting the Riverland against phylloxera is everyone’s responsibility.