A Vinehealth Australia project to investigate Australian rootstock supply volumes and identify opportunities to maximise rootstock resources has taken a step forward, with project partners Nick Dry from Foundation Viticulture and Dr Tim Jones from RDS Partners Pty Ltd officially appointed to undertake the project.

Nick Dry is well known in the wine industry and propagation sector, having spent 11 years managing Yalumba Nursery. Tim Jones has postdoctoral experience in grapevine rootstock breeding, and significant experience in commercial grapevine rootstock grafting operations.

This new rootstock project will investigate the grafted vine supply chain from breeding through to supply. It will involve a survey of key vine material suppliers, looking at supply data for:

  • Ramsey
  • 1103 Paulsen
  • 140 Ruggeri
  • 110 Richter
  • 5C Teleki
  • 5BB Kober
  • 101-14
  • 3309C
  • Schwarzmann
  • M5489
  • M5512

Eleven suppliers have been identified to participate in the survey. It’s estimated that these suppliers account for more than 90% of rootstock production in Australia. We greatly appreciate the involvement of these suppliers in the project

Planting density, vine training, irrigation systems, irrigation application, nutrient application and cutting yield data will be collected and analysed.

Vinehealth Australia CEO Inca Lee said this project was important for addressing issues surrounding rootstock supply and cost.

“Despite the accepted importance of rootstocks as a biosecurity preparedness tool, we need to identify if there are improvements that can be made in our rootstock supply chain, to ensure the supply of high-health, cost-effective, fit-for-purpose material,” Inca said.

Nick Dry said rootstock supply issues included:

  • Unavailability of specific rootstocks to meet current planting needs;
  • Poor health of currently produced rootstocks;
  • Inefficient production contributing to high rootstock cost; and
  • Unavailability of rootstocks to meet future planting needs in the event of a phylloxera incursion.

“This project will quantify grapevine rootstock supply and identify key factors that influence the grafted vine supply chain both in terms of rootstock mothervine management and nursery propagation practices,” Nick said.

“Importantly, it will deliver a roadmap to efficiently increase production of high-health rootstocks for the benefit of all wine producers.

“Planting the right rootstocks can deliver increased profitability to vineyard owners through benefits including nematode resistance, salt and drought tolerance, increased fruit set and advanced fruit maturity. Rootstocks are also a vital biosecurity safeguard.”