Virus strikes Maharashtra vineyards, imports stopped

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The booming Indian wine industry is facing a crisis with two deadly viruses affecting farms across Maharashtra, which accounts for 94 per cent of country’s wine production. While the viruses, blamed on imported plants, were first detected in 2002, fresh cases have been reported this year. The Indian Express reports on the virus fears in Maharashtra and discusses the confusion over how big an issue the threat is. Give us your opinion on the virus threat.Pictured are vines infected by a virus. virusvinesa.jpg

Viruses have a dangerous relationship with grapes and have certainly left their mark on the evolution of wine. For example, inadvertently introduced to Europe in 1860 on imported North American vinestocks, phylloxera wiped out a significant portion of European wine grapes in the mid-to-late 1800s. Read more on the phylloxera epidemic.

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  1. A number of viruses are associated with leaf roll disease and the disease is difficult to diagnose as the symptoms do not express fully in all plants and sometimes are confused with other physiological causes.
    We have to identify the specific virus and find out whether it is a single one or multiple viruses. The disease is dangerous in the sense that it can spread by Mealybugs.We find mealy bugs in almost all gardens.
    . It is a tragedy that nobody learnt a lesson from history. Phylloxera entered Europe from America and caused havoc. Mealy bug entered California grape gardens in early nineties and they are still fighting it. Both NRC and phyto sanitary authorities turned blind eye to the problem. Industry in its hurry let things happen but at what cost.
    We all including NRC and phyto sanitary authorities forgot the simple fact that in India grapes are grafted insitu and not exsitu. This was popularized by NRC itself .It means if I got some plants of a specific variety I can sell the cuttings and spread the problem.
    This need to be controlled .Industry, scientists and farmers and government should come together and work out a strategy to control the problem .We should not forget that these are the same farmers who were able to control the pesticide residues in export grapes with the help from NRC and APEDA

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