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April (No. 495)


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A new era for Australian Vine Improvement Association

George Kerridge , Australian Vine Improvement Association

During 2004 George Kerridge visited all vine improvement groups throughout Australia to advise on actions of the Association and activities planned for the future. As a result, the past 12 months have seen exciting changes within AVIA that have re-established the organisation within Australia and overseas. Kerridge’s contract concluded at the end of 2004 and he has chosen not to opt for a second year. Kerridge will continue with AVIA on a consultancy basis and is assisting during the transition prior to the appointment of a new executive officer.

Establishment of national nuclear collection

The decision in 2001 by the South Australian Vine Improvement Association (SAVII) to separate from AVIA and it members necessitated the scaling back of AVIA operations in line with budgetary constraints. In 2003 the AVIA committee, comprising representatives of the New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmanian vine improvement groups resolved to forge ahead to establish the national nuclear collection that had been originally planned for Kapunda, South Australia. With the full support of the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), the Grape and Wine Research & Development Corporation (GWRDC) and NSW Department of Primary Industries, the collection was instead established at the Dareton Research Station under the direction of Phil Nicholas (SARDI), Julian Connellan (VAMVVIA) and Kerridge.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries provided virgin land for the repository and planting was completed in October 2004. The collection consists of 880 vines, representing 212 grape varieties and clones. All of the vines have undergone biological indexing and PCR testing prior to being released by SARDI and were the result of a GWRDC project managed by Nicholas. All material was originally sourced from CSIRO Merbein, the Victorian and Murray Valley Vine Improvement Association (VAMVVIA) and SARDI repositories.

The collection is being managed by VAMVVIA and NSW Department of Primary Industries under industry agreed protocols.

Overseas study tour

In July 2004, AVIA was successful in applying for industry funding through Horticulture Australia Ltd to enable Kerridge and two industry colleagues, AVIA chairman, Kym Ludvigsen and VAMVVIA research and development officer, Julian Connellan, to undertake a study tour of vine improvement groups and organisations in Europe, Canada and America.
The group departed on 4 October and returned on 20 October 2004.
The focus of the tour was to re-establish AVIA with its international partners and to investigate opportunities for Australian vine improvement through research and development and to investigate new varieties of rootstock and vinifera for Australian viticulture.

Source area inspection workshop

Part one of a source area inspection workshop was conducted on 27 January at the AVIA office in Irymple. Presentations were given by Peter Magarey (SARDI), Bob Emmett (DPI) and George Kerridge. Twelve participants attended the workshop which included presentations on disease identification and a field walk in district vineyards.

AVIA committee meetings

During 2004 the AVIA committee met on two occasions. The first meeting included the Association AGM and was held in Melbourne on 28 May 2004 at the DPI Knoxfield office.
Guest speakers at the general meeting of the Association included Brendan Riddoni, Fiona Constable and Jacki Edwards from Department of Primary Industries Victoria.
The second meeting was held in Irymple at the VAMVVIA office complex and included a visit to the national nuclear collection at the Dareton Research Station. Guest speaker at this meeting was Helen Waite from the University of Melbourne.
AVIA remains an active member of a number of industry associations and discussion groups.

National Vine Accreditation Scheme

AVIA continues to administer the National Vine Accreditation Scheme for vine improvement groups and nurseries throughout Australia. AVIA employs national accredited auditors to provide an independent assessment of registered vine improvement groups and nurseries. All audits were successfully completed in October/November 2004. The development of the original manual was completed by Scholefield Robinson in the late 1990s with support from the GWRDC and this manual is in part being used as the basis for the development of new vine health standards for the Australian vine industry.
<3>National Vine Health Steering Committee
AVIA is an active member of the National Vine Health Steering Committee. In recent months draft guidelines have been developed to establish new vine health parameters for the Australian vine nursery industry. AVIA actively supports this initiative and will work closely with industry colleagues to further develop the draft standards.

Future activities

In the next 12 months and with the assistance of all member vine improvement groups, AVIA will complete a review and update of the AVIA National Register of Grapevine Varieties and Clones under the direction of Phil Nicholas of SARDI.

Part 2 of the Source Area Inspection Workshop will be held in April 2005.

The National Nuclear Collection will be maintained and the cutting and distribution of material will commence in 2006 when the collection has established.

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