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"No complacency" over phylloxera

Published:  23 July, 2008

Australian producers have been warned not to be complacent over the potential for phylloxera outbreaks, according to Kevin Powell of DPI Rutherglen.

Although Australia has detailed quarantine and plant movement standards in place, recent outbreaks in previously uninfested areas have highlighted the need to maintain awareness and continue to closely monitor the pest.

Powell is a strong advocate for targeted monitoring in identified high-risk climates and regions as a measure to better understand the habits of the 83 diverse genotypes of phylloxera known in Australia, and subsequently improve methods of limiting the spread of the insect.

Speaking at the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference, Powell said: "It takes just one crawler to create an outbreak," which is why he has been working on refining phylloxera-monitoring techniques to ensure more accurate, efficient and cost-effective collection of field data in the future.

The recommended plant standards monitoring method currently used in Australia is systematic ground survey where soil and roots are inspected visually.

Powell suggested implementing a more accurate insect-based primary detection system using trapping, which collects crawlers and insects as they emerge from the ground, and soil DNA phylloxera profiling in combination with root and soil surveys.

Together with secondary detection, using remote satellite images of vineyards and chemical leaf analysis, Powell and his colleagues are achieving precise monitoring of phylloxera activity.