A NEW test to quickly detect an insect found in Victorian and New South Wales grape vines has been developed by Agriculture Victoria scientests.
Grape phylloxera is a tiny aphid-like insect pest that destroys vines by feeding on their roots. It has the potential to wipe out entire vineyards within six years. Once the pest affect the vines, there is no way to rid the vines of the insects.
The genetic test will help farmers and winemakers battle grape phylloxera, one of the biggest threats to the country's grapevines. It uses portable LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) technology to analyse insect DNA.
Agriculture Victoria scientist Dr Mark Blacket said the test will enable easier and more effective surveillance of grape phylloxera.
"This new test will help to stop the spread of grape phylloxera between properties by enabling growers and biosecurity officers to detect it much sooner," Dr Blacket said. "The fact that biosecurity officers can now conduct rapid testing in the field means growers can better manage positive cases."
Costs of managing a grape phylloxera-infected vineyard can increase farm budgets by up to 20 per cent while outbreaks can drain vineyard profitability by up to 50 per cent over 20 years.
The test is currently being used by Agriculture Victoria through its Crop Health Services at the AgriBio Centre for AgriBioscience in Victoria and is available for Agriculture Victoria's biosecurity officers to use in the field.
Combined with Agriculture Victoria's Tackling Phylloxera Program, the test will improve productivity in the state's grape industries.