Grower pays for potentially spreading vine pest

A Harcourt grape grower has been fined for taking unfiltered grape juice out of an area where phylloxera has previously been detected and into an area free of the pest without approval.

Phylloxera is a tiny insect that mainly attacks the roots of grapevines, making it virtually impossible for the roots to take up water and nutrients to feed the vine.

This eventually renders the vine unproductive and it typically dies off.

Agriculture Victoria Plant Health Manager Gary D’Arcy said phylloxera is most commonly spread through transportation of vine or soil material, including unfiltered grape juice.

“Following an investigation by Agriculture Victoria Biosecurity Officers, a man from Harcourt was prosectuted on two charges related to knowingly transporting unfiltered grape juice out of a Phylloxera Infested Zone, without a permit,” Mr D’Arcy said.

The man pleaded guilty and was charged without conviction and placed on a 12 month good behaviour bond with a further condition to pay $1000 to the Court Fund and costs of $200.

“The grower did not have the appropriate authorisation permit, despite a warning from Agriculture Victoria Biosecurity Officers.”

Mr D’Arcy said there are national rules and procedures in place to contain and stop the spread of phylloxera into areas free from the invasive pest.

“The risk to industry of any further spread of phylloxera is very serious.

“This result is a warning to other grape growers to abide by the rules and not put their own industry at risk from this devastating pest.”

Anyone planning to move grapes and/or grape products without a permit, accreditation or certification should contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186.

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