Trunk disease and cover crops at the top of Queensland’s agenda

The latest advice on identifying and managing trunk disease in vineyards will launch Queensland’s 2013–14 GWRDC Regional Program.

Queensland Wine Industry Association (QWIA) president Jim Barnes said there was growing national attention and conversation happening around this issue, and it was time Queensland also considered the issue.

‘In early November, we plan to conduct a trunk disease vineyard survey as well as a practical workshop on the Granite Belt’, Mr Barnes said.

The survey and workshop will be jointly presented by South Australian Research and Development Institute’s plant and soil health research scientist Mark Sosnowski and National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) research associate Wayne Pitt later this year.

The workshop aims to provide growers with the most up-to-date information on trunk diseases and their management and to offer opportunities for growers to interact directly with researchers, and to discuss these issues and their experiences with each other.

Similar workshops are also planned in NSW, South Australia and Tasmania later in the year as part of the GWRDC Regional Program.

‘We can already see some visual evidence that there is trunk disease here in a few Queensland vineyards, but it’s critical growers get all the latest advice before they start making changes in their vineyards’, Mr Barnes said.

A three-year trial to determine the appropriate and most advantageous cover-crop species for the diverse Queensland wine regions will also begin as part of the 2013–14 Regional Program.

‘The QWIA is made up of several unique geographic zones. We have wine regions that are best described as high rain and coastal, another region that’s quite cool and dry’, he said.

‘It’s definitely not a simple matter of being able to adopt the new or accepted viticultural practices from established winegrowing regions, where a lot of this research work has already taken place. The varieties of cover-crop that work for them aren’t necessarily best practice for local conditions here.’

The project follows on from a low-input viticulture presentation conducted recently in the Granite Belt by cover-crop expert Chris Penfold from the University of Adelaide.

‘The presentation by Chris was really well received but it highlighted the unique environmental challenges of this region, so we’re keen to continue looking into this topic and generate some specific Queensland-focussed findings’, Mr Barnes said.

The trial will be conducted in vineyard sites across three regions, with the assistance of the NWGIC and Chris to help plan and establish the trials. Native species such as Prostrate Ruby Saltbush, QLD Bluegrass and Wallaby Grass are possible inclusions in the trial.

A third workshop is yet to be finalised, but Jim said a follow-up to an excellent presentation from Dr Roberta Veale, senior lecturer and program director Master of Wine Business program at The University of Adelaide’s Business School, could be on the cards. Chris and Roberta formed part of a joint seminar held in June, this year.

‘We had some great feedback from Roberta’s presentation, on using your website to build virtual cellar doors – and if there’s more to learn from her work, I’m pretty sure members would be interested.’

Mr Barnes said QWIA’s membership was widespread and mostly considered small wine producers.

‘So seminars and field days offer our members the best form of access to catch up, hear what everyone’s doing here in their own vineyards and learn what’s happening in terms of innovation and extension work in the other states as well.’

‘It’s also a great opportunity to forge networks with external organisations and strengthen the ties between the regions within Queensland as well as regional and state industry bodies.’

IMAGE: (L to R) Cheryl and Brad Hutchings (Savina Lane Wines) Dr Roberta Veale (Uni of Adelaide) Kate Harvey (GWRDC) Angelo Puglisi (Ballandean Estate)

For more information contact Kate Harvey, GWRDC General Manager,

Winter Wine  Industry Seminar Stanthorpe