ONVV: Phytoplasmic diseases affecting vineyards must be combated through concerted efforts

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The vineyards of the Republic of Moldova are affected by the phytoplasma diseases “Golden Yellowing” (Flavescence doree) and “Black Wood” (Bois noir), and, depending on the grape variety, the percentage of infection varies between 6.5% and 100%. The conclusions of the National Scientific and Practical Conference on “Phytoplasma Diseases in the Vineyards of the Republic of Moldova – Detection, Prevention and Combat”, organized by the National Office for Vine and Wine (ONVV) were presented by the experts in the field.

The event gathered around 75 participants, including winemakers, winegrowers and researchers, who shared practices to combat phytoplasma diseases applied at European level.

Gheorghe Arpentin, director, National Office for Vine and Wine: “One of the basic objectives of the National Office for Vine and Wine is to maintain the quality of Wine of Moldova throughout the production chain, from the vine to the glass. Therefore, ONVV, together with local and foreign experts, organizes training sessions for representatives of the wine industry to provide them with information to help them create a quality product. Moreover, such events are also beneficial because they give participants the opportunity to learn about the legal aspects, the good practices applied in the world’s major wine regions and, at the same time, to establish connections with experts in the field.”

Vladimir Corobca, viticulture coordinating expert, Department for Quality Assurance and Conformity of Wine Products, ONVV: “Since 2000, more and more vineyards have been affected by the ‘Golden Yellowing’ (Flavescence doree) and ‘Black Wood’ (Bois noir) phytoplasma diseases, that had a negative impact on productivity, which decreased by up to 80% over time. Worldwide, ‘Golden yellowing’ (Flavescence doree) is an extremely dangerous disease, which is why in the large wine regions of the world, it is considered a quarantine organism, and if more than 20-25% of hubs are affected, the respective vineyard is grubbed up. To combat these diseases and to contribute to the sustainable development of the country’s wine sector, during 2017-2020, ONVV implements the ‘FlaveDor’ project – ‘Phytoplasma diseases in the vineyards – situation, prevention and combat’.”

The “FlaveDor” project, launched at the end of 2016 by the National Office for Vine and Wine, ensures the implementation of the Action Plan to prevent the spread of these diseases, developed 2 years earlier by the competent authorities. The program has several objectives, including: raising the awareness of the wine sector and specialized public authorities on the real situation regarding phytoplasma diseases, ensuring the functionality of the specialized laboratory in the Scientific-Practical Institute for Horticulture and Food Technologies (IȘPHTA), providing support in the hydrothermal treatment of seedlings and vineyard propagation, as well as the creation of a plantation of native varieties of the “Pre-base” and “Base” category, with an area of ​​approximately 8 hectares. At present, the legislation of the Republic of Moldova on the prevention and control of phytoplasma diseases “Golden yellowing” (Flavescence doree) and “Black Wood” (Bois noir) is not harmonized with that of the European Union, the latter establishing clear mechanisms and strategie in this regard. Moreover, local authorities have an accredited laboratory, but for now it can not detect and differentiate these diseases.

Emanuele Mazzoni, Italian expert: “In Italy, the most common phytoplasma diseases that affect vineyards are the ‘Golden Yellowing’ and the ‘Black Wood’. For example, in the north of the country, the most common is “Golden yellowing”, which spreads very quickly. “Black Wood” is present in all wine-growing areas of Italy. Between 1999 and 2000, grape production was greatly reduced, and winegrowers were not sufficiently informed to fight these diseases. Although strategies have been developed to prevent their spread, and many experiments have been made, they did not have the expected results. Today, there is a law in Italy, regarding the prevention and fighting of the ‘Golden Yellowing’, which also includes the involvement of the phytosanitary services subordinated to the government. Thus, experts are required to inspect the vineyards, and if the disease is detected, that production unit is banned from selling the seedlings for the next two years. Moreover, regional specialists also establish a strategy to fight this disease. In Italy, as well as in all wine-producing countries in the EU, the ‘Golden yellowing’ and its vector are reported as quarantine organisms. Discussions are currently being held to also include “Black Wood” in the list of quarantine organisms.”

Thus, during two years of implementation of the “FlaveDor” project – “Phytoplasma diseases in the vineyards – situation, prevention and combat”, ONVV purchased equipment and consumables for the Scientific-Practical Institute of Horticulture and Food Technologies in the amount of approximately 218 thousand MDL, which will ensure the functionality of the laboratory and the training of an employee in Italy. At the same time, in order to assess the real situation, about 876 ha of vineyards, including graft plantations and rootstocks, have been visually evaluated, revealing that the vine hubs of 1-4 years old, are infected at a percentage ranging from 30 to 94.6%.

Additionally, about 320 vines were tested using the PCR method, including 30 samples – at a laboratory in France. The results of lab tests have shown that the most common phytoplasma disease in our country is the “Black Wood”, and laboratory samples did not determine its country of origin. The general conclusion is that the phytoplasmic diseases spread through infected seedlings, but even more – through cicadas, vectors of phytoplasma diseases that transmit them from diseased plants to healthy ones. The participants in the conference have asked for the inclusion in the list of quarantine organisms of the “Golden Yellowing” vector, the “Black Wood” vector, as well as Drozophila suzuki – the insect which in most wine-producing countries has a negative impact, similar to that of Philloxera vitis.


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