Grapevine trunk diseases (GTDs) are a range of fungal diseases that are currently considered the most destructive biotic factor of grapevines worldwide. GTD-related pathogens infect mainly perennial woody plant tissues, via wounds that may occur at any developmental stage from the nursery to the vineyard, resulting in reduced longevity and profitable vineyard lifespan, yield losses, and premature replanting of severely affected vineyards.
Although GTDs are long considered a deteriorating factor of viticulture, their incidence and subsequent consequences have spiked over recent decades, mainly due to the circulation of potentially contaminated planting material, an industry shift towards cropping systems that render vines more prone to wood infections, as well as the lack of effective plant protection products (PPPs).
Towards the improvement of the economic efficiency, sustainability and competitiveness of the local vitiviniculture sector, an Operational Group in Cyprus is focusing on actions to develop and share knowledge and experiences on thermotherapy; a practice used on the propagation material, in order to reduce the microbial load and spread of plant pathogenic fungi in new plantings.
This Operational Group, led by the Development Agency of Lemesos LTD, aims to support growers by developing and sharing an integrated strategy for GTD management in Cyprus. The project begun in 2021 and will run until 2024, bringing together partners including researchers, farmers, and a Local Action Group.
The scope of the project is to evaluate, use and spread new processes and practices that will be integrated into the existing grapevine cultivation practices and processes applied in Cyprus. Avraam Papamichael, project coordinator, explains “We are hoping to form an organisational concept that will contribute to addressing the important problem of Grapevine Trunk Diseases in Cyprus, for the benefit of both the individual producers and their groups that will adopt them, but also for the benefit of viticulture more broadly.”
In terms of the thermotherapy protocols, plant material of the indigenous wine grape cultivars Xynisteri and Mavro will be subjected to different hot water treatments at temperature/time combinations that will kill conserved pathogens. More specifically, the following thermotherapy protocols will be evaluated: 47, 49, 51, 53, 55°C for a time duration of 15, 30 and 45 minutes, respectively. Subsequently, the treated plant material will be planted in the pilot fields, and monitored over time, in terms of fitness and growth parameters.
“Although pruning woods must be protected to limit GTD infections, the majority of local growers do not apply plant protection measurements against GTDs. Through our actions we will also offer the possibility for effective management of the GTD problem in newly established vineyards,” Avraam states. Partners will evaluate the effectiveness of a number of registered PPPs under local conditions. Conventional as well as organic agents will be tested, such as Trichoderma-based formulations.
Avraam adds, “Also, as part of the project, through information actions on the intensity of the problem and its spread in the vineyards of the action area, the importance of the use of "clean" propagating material by growers will be reinforced.”
Overall, the Operational Group aims to ensure the implementation of innovative cultivation practices and new processes by the grape growers and the stakeholders of the grape and wine sector, both locally and across Cyprus. The results and the data will be available through the project’s website, through relevant publications including an information guide. It will encourage partnerships between farmers and research institutions for the realisation of practically applicable actions, aiming at utilising knowledge, to improve the competitiveness of agriculture in Cyprus.
The project website is currently under construction, more info soon.
Photos and content
Provided by the project coordinator.
- Publication date
- 4 January 2023
- Innovation, knowledge exchange & EIP-AGRI