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How to halt wine world’s biggest killer?

There are currently 7.5 million hectares under vine globally – 1.5 million suffer trunk diseases.

Imagine a vine disease with no cure that affects an area the size of France and Italy’s vineyards combined.

We’re not talking about phylloxera, the vine louse that once devastated European vineyards. In 2015, the biggest threats to wine grape production are trunk diseases.

One in five grapevines worldwide has a trunk disease and they’re now considered “the most destructive diseases of grapevine of the past three decades and are of rapidly growing concern in all wine producing countries.”

As a result, the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) has called for the wine world to cooperate to tackle this issue.

They have “become a real problem during the last years, causing in the shorter or longer term the death of the vines and also meaning a substantial economic cost for their replacement. It is well accepted that almost 20 percent of the vineyards are affected by these diseases around the world,” explained the OIV in a statement.

There are currently 7.5 million hectares under vine globally and 1.5 million hectares of vines with trunk disease – or the combined vineyard area of France and Italy.

Trunk diseases like Esca and Black Dead Arm generally affect older plants but recently plants as young as two to three years old have been affected.

There is no cure currently. Until 2003, chemical products were allowed to control their spread but have since been banned due to the risk to human health.

In the late 19th Century, quirky suggestions to combat phylloxera were proposed, including burying frogs in the vineyard. It’s unlikely such esoteric ideas will be put forward in 2015.

Breeding disease-resistant vines is considered a more sensible option, but in the interim preventative measures have been recommended, such as removing dying vines, but its spread continues apace.

Source: Le Pan