Is it possible to find methods to avoid grafting of Vitis Vinifera vines? A project is underway with the goal to recover the quality of the wine before the Phylloxera and increase the lifetime of the vines!
The association “LES VIEILLES BRANCHES” is running this project (www.assolesvieillesbranches.com where you also can give financial support). One of the plots used for the experiments is at Domaine Gavoty in Provence, well-known for their rosé wines and excellent Rolle wines from old vines.
The association knows that inevitable failures will accompany their various experiments, so to be able to temporarily eliminate the phylloxera insect by drowning, they essentially plant vines on flat land that can be flooded.
The project follows two lines where the first is to recover vines which naturally have resisted the insect under severe conditions (clay-limestone soils), and would thus be immune, and by that building up a conservatory of vines.
The second line is to carry out experiments using biological control of the insect where it is not necessary to eradicate Phylloxera, but to limit the insect, or ensuring that the Vitis Vinifera vines can coexist with the insect. Research areas are for example:
- Trapping techniques, especially during the insect’s winged phase
- Repellents techniques, or the use of predatory auxiliaries, such as the use of pathogenic fungi, e.g. Métharizium or Beauveria bassiana
- Use of biological insecticides (tobacco, bitter almonds, peach kernels, cherry and laurel-cherry leaves, cassava, sorghum, some of them are however toxic)
- Natural insecticides (Pyrethrin from the Chrysanthemum flower, Rotenone extracted from the roots of leguminous plants, the purons nettle, comfrey, ferns etc.)
- Methods of supporting the vine’s immune defence (biodynamics, mycorrhizae, biostimulants, elicitors, etc.)
An interesting but also a high-risk project!