Sunday, 29 November 2015 07:00

The leafroll 3 ‘toolkit’

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By far the most destructive virus present in New Zealand vineyards, Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 ('leafroll 3' for short).

The virus spreads rapidly and negatively affects grape and wine quality, particularly in premium red wines.

For more than a decade New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) has consistently dedicated a portion of member levies to fund research pertaining to the control of leafroll 3 virus and the insect vector that spreads infection (mealybug). In late October, a new book will be distributed to all NZW members, providing the latest practical guidance on the subject and entitled Leafroll 3 Virus and How to Manage It.

Created as part of NZW's 'Virus Elimination Project' (which ran from 2009 to 2015 and was co-funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries), the book is written by project team members Ruby Andrew, Vaughn Bell, Nick Hoskins, Gerhard Pietersen and Caine Thompson.

Announcing the new book at the 2015 Romeo Bragato Conference in August, Ruby Andrew outlined the wide range of tech-transfer tools developed throughout the course of the project:

13 fact sheets, providing 'how to' information on key steps in managing leafroll 3 (available on nzwine.com).

7-part video series, explaining detailed management actions (available on nzwine.com).

Online photo library, showing symptoms of leafroll 3 infections on red varieties (available on flickr.com).

NZW's Leafroll 3 App, launched in 2014 and available in New Zealand by searching for 'leafroll 3' on iPhone or Android App stores.

"The book draws together all that practical guidance, and the knowledge we have gained through more than 50 presentations to growers around the country," said Andrew. "We have updated our recommendations, added photographs, new illustrations and step-by-step instructions to help growers develop an annual integrated management programme tailormade for their own vineyard."

The book is divided into two main sections: Part 1 summarises the science underpinning current knowledge about the interactions between the virus, the vector and the vine; Part 2 offers the detailed guidance for every step in a control plan.

Topics covered include monitoring symptoms on red varieties, mapping infections in the vineyard, testing white varieties, mealybug control and assessment, vineyard hygiene, treatment and removal of infected vines and recommendations for replacement plantings.

Dr Simon Hooker, NZW General Manager Research, noted that the Virus Elimination Project had set out to explore a range of channels for tech transfer to members, and the results would help to guide communications for other research projects.

"If you search for manage leafroll 3 virus on Google, you will get nearly 60,000 results," said Dr Hooker. "The top three results – and many others – direct you to tech-transfer materials created by New Zealand Winegrowers."

This is significant, said Dr Hooker, because the web pages that Google lists on the first page of results for any given search term are those considered most relevant and useful.

"The Virus Elimination Project has been successful on many fronts," said Dr Hooker. "The reduction of infection on participating vineyards demonstrated that leafroll 3 is not an insurmountable problem, and the new book collects the guidance developed in the project to inform and forewarn growers in every winegrowing region."

 

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