Finding the root cause of threat to wine

On the hunt: Vigneron Tyson Lewis said residents’ help could tip the balance against the pest. Picture: Yanni

THE invasive pest phylloxera hasn’t got a foothold in the Mornington Peninsula’s estimated 1000 hectares of grape vines – yet.

And that’s why the Mornington Peninsula Vignerons’ Association and Agriculture Victoria have launched a campaign to prevent it gaining a foothold.

Mornington Peninsula Shire is also in the fight seeking “insider knowledge” of the presence of the pest in every nook and cranny. 

The phylloxera insect can devastate a commercial vineyard and is easily transmitted between vines. This occurs when infected soil or plant material is carried from infected areas, possibly on shoes or clothing.

Peninsula residents are being asked to become involved by downloading the Snap Send Solve app onto their phones and photographing often-innocent-looking ornamental vines, also known as amenity vines, in their backyard or in public places. This could help nip the pest in the bud (so to speak).

They should then select their location, select the “incident” as “amenity vine” and notify Agriculture Victoria whose officers can make an inspection.

Many residents already use the app to notify the shire about littering and other incidents.

Vignerons association officer Tyson Lewis said while phylloxera had not been found on the peninsula it was known to be in the Yarra Valley, “only an hour and a half’s drive away”.

“This is ground zero,” he said. “We are going to do a whole-of-peninsula survey to see if we can find any [phylloxera].

“If none are found, Agriculture Victoria will declare us a phylloxera-free zone and make it tougher for vines to be brought in from other areas. This is all part of improving our biosecurity.”

Vines suspected of hosting the insect can easily be checked by digging to half-spade depth and inspecting the root zone where infestation will be visible.

First published in the Mornington News – 19 February 2019


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