The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is encouraging improved vineyard hygiene to combat the potential entry and spread of grapevine pests and diseases.
DPI Senior Plant Standards Officer Greg King said a number of exotic pests have the capacity to infest Victorian vineyards and lessons can be learnt from recent outbreaks of grape phylloxera.
"New outbreaks of phylloxera have been discovered in 2006, 2008 and 2010 and further spread is occurring in some of these outbreak areas," Mr King said.
"Regulations are in place to prevent the spread of the pest from Phylloxera Infested Zones (PIZs) and into the Phylloxera Exclusion Zone (PEZ).
"However, the movement of host material of phylloxera within each phylloxera management zone is not regulated, so controlling the movement of pests and diseases relies on the voluntary adoption of good on-farm hygiene practices.
"In order to protect vineyards from the movement of pests and diseases, all growers should be controlling what comes onto and off their properties.
"This is vital for all pest and disease management, not just phylloxera."
There are a number of practices that growers can implement to ensure good vineyard hygene, including:
* fencing off the vineyard to prevent public access
* installing signage advising that entry to the vineyard is prohibited * requiring any workers coming onto the vineyard to use disinfectant footbaths
* having a wash-down area for machinery and vehicles away from the vineyard
* ensuring all vehicles, machinery and equipment coming onto the property are clean and disinfested and, if necessary, accompanied by certification from DPI.
"At this time of year there are many movements of mechanical harvesters, grape bins, picking buckets, cartage trucks and labour teams," Mr King said.
"These all have the potential to spread phylloxera, so good hygiene is essential."
Damien Sheehan, viticulturist and Chair of the Victorian Viticulture Biosecurity Committee, endorsed Mr King's hygiene messages.
"It takes a few years for phylloxera to become evident and during this time it could spread further within a vineyard or spread to other vineyards," Mr Sheehan said.
"It's wise for all growers to routinely apply the conditions for movement of any vineyard-related materials specified under phylloxera control regulations.
"Good on-farm hygiene is critical in minimising the impacts of pests and diseases on our viticulture industries."