Growing Futures

Eliminating disease from grapevines

Eliminating disease from grapevines

Testing for grapevine leafroll disease allows growers to make key decisions on vine removal

Grapevine leafroll disease is a major disease of grapevines causing uneven ripening of grapes, reduced yields, and changes to the sugar, acidity and flavour profiles of the grapes.

Research suggests that grapevine leafroll disease should be kept at infection levels at or less than 1% for vineyards to maintain economic sustainability. As there is no cure, when infection exceeds the sustainable level, infected vines have to be removed and replaced with certified infection-free stock. This costs, for example, approximately $160,000 per hectare for Chardonnay vines producing grapes for ultra-premium wine brands.

Knowing the extent of infection helps growers make decisions on how to best to manage their vines. Plant & Food Research has developed a new testing method that uses the ELISA diagnostic methodology, an antibody test that identifies a particular protein in the coating around the virus. By running this test on leaf samples taken from near the base of 200 randomly selected vines across a block, the extent of infection can be determined and appropriate control measures deployed.

The Virus Elimination Project was developed by New Zealand Winegrowers with co-funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Farming Fund.

Created: September 2017

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