About Vine Improvement

WHAT IS VINE IMPROVEMENT?

The term vine Improvement means the supply and continual improvement of grape vine planting material to deliver optimum vine performance in vineyard yield and wine quality, which in turn assists with wine industry competitiveness and sustainability.

WHAT IS A CLONE?

A grapevine clone is an identified selection of a grape variety that may have specific quality and performance characteristics. A grapevine clone originates from a selected parent vine using vegetative propagation from a cutting or other part of the parent vine to produce more vines that are genetically identical to the parent, and therefore have the potential to deliver the same specific quality and performance characteristics that may be sought after. 

WHAT IS A SOURCE BLOCK?

A source block is a vineyard planted from material derived from a 'mother vine' of a known variety and clone held in a Foundation Collection. Source block vineyards are typically established in collaboration between the grower and a vine improvement organisation, and are usually commercial vineyards producing grapes for the wine or table grape market. The taking of cuttings from these source blocks is managed by local vine improvement organisations, in accordance with Accreditation standards, and then distributed to nurseries and growers. Source blocks allow a greater proportion of high quality planting material to be available to the industry. Source block establishment and maintenance is the key role of vine improvement organisations such as Barossa Vine Improvement so as to meet industry demand.

VINA CERTIFICATION

The Vine Industry Nursery Accreditation Scheme (VINA) follows Quality Assurance protocols allowing nurseries and organisations supplying propagation material to nurseries, to become accredited through the use of standard operating procedures, controls, and documented methods of operation in accordance with specific VINA standards. Such organisations are audited annually under the VINA scheme by an independent quality assurance auditor. Certified grapevines are derived from pathogen tested, clonally selected primary sources. The certification process specifies conditions to prevent and detect subsequent infection of nursery plants by regulated pests, ensures varietal and clonal integrity, and permits tracing the certified grapevines to the originally selected and tested plants. Using certified grapevine nursery stock is a powerful and effective tool to control infectious agents including viruses. It enables vineyards to economically and sustainably maintain grape quality and productivity. Certified cuttings offer genetically superior and pathogen-tested vines for new vineyard plantings.

WHAT IS A VIRUS?

Virus refers to minute infectious particles only seen using powerful electron microscopes. They are parasites of plants, animals and micro-organisms such as fungi, bacteria and microplasmas. Grape vine viruses can be spread in infected propagation material, and by sucking insects such as aphids, leafhoppers, treehoppers, whiteflies, mealybugs, scales and thrips. Nematodes also have the ability to transmit soil borne viral disease. The International Council for the study of Virus and Virus-like diseases of the grapevine (ICVG) recognises over 70 infectious agents (viruses, viroids and phytoplasmas) of grapevines. Some of these can be highly detrimental to vines by negatively impacting plant vigour, longevity, crop yield and grape quality. The Adelaide Research and Innovation Department (Waite Diagnostics, School of Agriculture Food and Wine) provides world-class grapevine disease diagnosis services to the Australian Wine Industry, and is a leader in grape vine virus research.

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