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24/04/2015

How to keep vineyards productive in the long term

The twin demands of keeping vineyards healthy while striving for greater productivity will drive the agenda at the ASVO’s technical seminar in Mildura in July.

National and international experts will address topics as diverse as salinity management, trunk disease, viruses, disease resistant cultivars, drought resilience and the necessary responses to climate change.

“We’ll be looking at specific issues around the biotic and abiotic threats to productivity as well as debating broader questions about how to adapt to keep vineyards viable,” said organiser Brett McClen, the ASVO’s regional Victorian representative and chief viticulturist with Brown Brothers Milawa.

“It’s all about protecting assets and incomes, and ultimately an industry. Some good research is being done, and we’re constantly updating ideas and techniques, so we need to ensure these developments get out to vineyard owners and managers to help them make the best management decisions.”

McClen said the tough economic environment and accompanying pressures to reduce operating costs makes it even more imperative to keep an eye on longer term productivity.

Senator Anne Ruston, the chair of the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, will open the seminar.

The keynote speaker will be Dr Kendra Baumgartner, a grapevine pathologist and specialist in sustainable viticulture with the US Department of Agriculture. Her research program is developing effective and efficient control strategies for fungal diseases and vineyard practices that reduce chemical inputs while achieving production and quality demands.

Another international perspective will be provided by Dr Vaughn Bell, from the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research, who will share the strategies that have been developed for vineyard managers to devise profit-maximising disease control strategies.

"It’s all about keeping vines healthy,” McClen said. “Unhealthy vines are less productive, they produce poorer quality fruit, they're harder to manage and this can threaten a vineyard’s longevity.”

The seminar, entitled “Vineyard longevity: maintaining the asset”, will be held in the Mildura Art Centre on 22–23 July. The program and online registration are available at https://asvomildura.wordpress.com

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