How I get rid of a Phylloxera grapevine infestation?
September 16, 2008 9:07 PM   Subscribe

(Amature Viticulture filter)...What do I do to get rid of a Phylloxera infestation?

I have 2 grapevines growing in my backyard. They are both concord type grapes and were already growing and well established prior to the purchase of the property. One of the grape vines has what looks like a very bad Phylloxera infestation. The leaves are covered in hundreds of raised bumps and curling inwards.

Most of the advice on Phylloxera that I'm finding online tends to be directed towards folks who own vineyards and suggests grafting resistant varieties onto the infested vine. They also suggest pesticides, which we'd prefer to avoid.

How do I get rid of the infestation? Do I need to destroy the whole plant? I'd hate for the infestation to spread to other local grape growers. Also, as the leaves will be dying back soon, what do I do with them after they fall? We usually haul our yard and garden waste to the local landfill where it is composted, but obviously, I don't want to spread Phylloxera everywhere.
posted by pluckysparrow to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Wouldn't the solution be to plant phylloxera-resistant rootstock and then graft the varietal onto that rather than try dealing with the phylloxera in situ? Grub up and burn what's already damaged and start again. And if you're starting again from fresh, just plant resistant varieties.

I'm not sure you could get rid of the phylloxera once it's established in the soil. I thought that was the major problem with the French vineyards. I have no experience of this, but I thought that's what happened after the big phylloxera contamination in the 19th century - they got rootstock from California or Chile that was resistant and started again.
posted by sagwalla at 2:13 AM on September 17, 2008

Your local agricultural extension cooperative probably has some good advice about this, if you're still stumped in a few days.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:00 AM on September 17, 2008

If it's foliar phylloxera, there's no chemicals that I'm aware of that you can use on them, and it's likely foliar since you can see the galls on the leaves.

Personally, I'd rip 'em all up and replant with a resistant rootstock, vitis labruscana. It sucks, but it did nearly destroy the entire winemaking world in the 19th century. It was only the vitis vinefera in Chile that remained free of phylloxera, and from that the vineyards of France were repopulated.

Depending on where you are, you might be able to befriend a grape-grower and they might have some more information for you, or if you're lucky, there are some sprays that are used commercially for the control of foliar phylloxera.

What kind of vines are these, and where are you?
posted by glip at 12:31 PM on September 17, 2008

What kind of vines are these, and where are you?

Concord grapes, OP says.

It might not be phylloxera, you know. It could just be harmless galls caused by insects. The Thompson seedless vines in my neighbor's yard get galls every year. The vines are 30 years old and could withstand a nuclear blast are prolific. They're not affected at all.

Even if it is phylloxera, it's not damaging unless it affects the roots. And if it has, you'll have to pull them out and start over with a resistant rootstock. If you're handy, you might be able to graft your existing vines onto a hardy roostock, but you might as well just buy new plants.

Don't panic until you know for sure, though. Could be garden variety galls. The suggestion to try your local ag extension is a good one.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:18 PM on September 17, 2008

Personally, I'd rip 'em all up and replant with a resistant rootstock, vitis labruscana.

Concord is Vitis labruscana. Concord is supposed to be fairly resistant to Phylloxera- I would definitely recommend talking to an expert with leaves in hand to ascertain what type of galls you have, because it could be something else. Concord grapevines will be more resistant if your soil pH and nutrition and water are appropriate, so I would get a soil test as well.

Burn any debris until you're certain you don't have Phylloxera.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:11 PM on September 17, 2008

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