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Downy mildew hits Australia

A fungal disease has hit long-suffering Australian wine regions and is likely to drive more growers out of business.

Humid weather and heavy rainy has hit inland Australia, particularly in the Riverland and the Riverina regions, causing widespread downy mildew problems. Premium regions including the Barossa and Hunter Valley are now threatened.

The outbreak has been made worse by a shortage of chemicals to treat the diseases. Demand for the fungicide that eradicates downy mildew, Ridamil, has soared and chemical companies have been caught napping. Ashley Ratcliff of Yalumba says ‘Large stocks are not available because these areas have been in drought for a lot of years and there was little demand. The chemical companies are now madly trying to keep up with demand.’

Liz Singh of Murray Valley Winegrowers which represents 1000 growers in the region says, ‘I’ve heard from the rural council that some growers have lost their whole crop while others just a few spots.’

‘It’s the last thing that growers needed. A lot of them have been hanging on for a number of years so we will probably see them drop out of the industry.’

Bruce Chalmers, a viticulturist based in Merbein near Mildura added: ‘It’s a massive problem in Sunraysia, the Riverland and MIA. It’s going to have a big effect on yields.’

pic: Weekly Times Now

Written by Rebecca Gibb in Auckland

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