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Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek vineyards inspected: no phylloxera

An inspection program conducted by the Phylloxera and Grape Industry Board of South Australia has found no phylloxera in the Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek, Currency Creek and Lower Murray wine regions. The Phylloxera & Grape Industry Board, a wine industry-funded body, conducts an annual vineyard surveillance program targeted at the early detection of phylloxera, the tiny insect that has, in the past, devastated vines across the world. Each year, near-infrared aerial imagery is collected of approximately 20% of South Australia's vineyard regions and processed to identify vines displaying canopy symptoms that could indicate phylloxera. These vines are then inspected by ground teams. Inspection involves excising roots from surrounding vines and examining them for phylloxera and root galls. Inspections are jointly undertaken by Phylloxera Board staff and officers from PIRSA’s Plant Health Operations Unit. Peter Hackworth, chief executive with the board, explained that while they didn’t expect to find phylloxera because of the long history of tough quarantine regulations it was still important to have an early detection surveillance program in place. “We know that the impact of phylloxera would fall heaviest on vineyard owners who would be faced with loss of production and the high cost of removing dying vines and replacing with vines grafted to phylloxera-tolerant rootstocks. “If we can find an infestation before symptoms are obvious then we can reduce that impact,” he said. The program is also important in proving to the rest of the world that South Australia doesn’t just say it is phylloxera free but is doing something about proving it. The board recently completed collecting aerial imagery of vineyards in the Limestone Coast. Because the region was also flown in 2001 this provides the opportunity to examine changes in vine health that have occurred in that time. Imagery will be delivered to the vineyard owners in mid-2006.



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