Top tips for healthy pruning

Dr Mark Sosnowski – AKA the trunk disease guru – is the man behind Eutypa disease management strategies that have the potential to save the Australian wine industry millions of dollars each year.

Mark is Senior Research Scientist at the South Australian Research and Development Institute, and is the current chair of the International Council on Grapevine Trunk Disease. Working collaboratively with other researchers in Australia and around the world, he has developed ways of minimising the impact of grapevine trunk diseases (GTD), such as applying wound treatments to pruning cuts to prevent infection, and remedial surgery (lopping affected vines at the trunk) to eradicate the pathogen.

“Unfortunately, they aren’t going away, but we’re making some real progress with effective management of trunk diseases,” Mark said.

Here Mark shares his top six pruning tips for managing grapevine trunk disease:

  1. Where possible, avoid pruning during rainfall when airborne spores of GTD pathogens are most prevalent.
  2. Consider pre-pruning in early-mid winter and hand clean up later in the winter when risk of infection is reduced.
  3. Contamination of pruning tools is not a major risk to spreading GTD within the vineyard, but always clean pruning tools when moving between blocks and vineyards.
  4. Protect all wounds by spraying with a registered fungicide within 1 week of pruning, ensuring good coverage (fungicides will provide up to 2 weeks’ further protection, which should be sufficient to cover the duration of high wound susceptibility).
  5. Prioritise younger, healthy vines for pruning in dry conditions and apply preventative sprays.
  6. Remediate infected vines by cutting out all signs of infection from cordons and trunks, allowing a further 10-20 cm buffer where possible, followed by painting wounds with paint or a registered wound sealant.

For more information, read the Eutypa Dieback Best Practice Management Guide which can be found here: http://research.wineaustralia.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/20160621_Eutypa-dieback-best-practice-management-guide.pdf

Read future issues of Vinehealth Australia’s e-news for more information about Dr Mark Sosnowski’s work.

Dr Mark Sosnowski