Disease expense may run $260 million a year Eutypa could be costing the California wine industry $260 million a year, according to a study released by the American Vineyard Foundation (AVF).

"The economic impact of eutypa for growers and vintners has been significant," says Patrick Gleeson, AVF executive director. "While the AVF has made a significant eutypa investment for over 15 years, this study, helps us put our arms around the economics of this disease. Given the impact of eutypa, we're taking a multi-dimensional approach to the research the AVF is funding and leveraging the strength of individual researchers by creating a team research environment for this issue."

Caused by a fungal pathogen that infects grapevines through pruning wounds, eutypa is the primary vineyard disease in California. The disease diminishes the vigor of the vines and, if not successfully treated, eventually kills them. To get a clear read on the economic impact of eutypa, the AVF commissioned noted farm economist Jerome B. Siebert of the University of California, Berkeley, to conduct this research.

"Eutypa is very costly to California's wine grape industry in terms of decreased yields, increased cost of vineyard management, lost revenues and shortening the life span of vineyards," says Siebert.

In researching the economic effects of eutypa for the study, Economic Impact of Eutypa on the California Wine Grape Industry, Siebert compares total crop values of vineyards affected by eutypa to unaffected vineyards. He concludes that eutypa could be costing the industry as much as $260 million annually in reduced production. That figure assumes that eutypa-infected vineyards would see a loss in income of 15.8 percent each year.

"There is no good control," Siebert adds. Currently vineyard managers paint or hand-spray fungicide on the wounds as soon as possible after pruning and before rain. In addition to reduced yields, he estimates that growers are also absorbing the cost of treating eutypa, which annually adds up to approximately $15.8 million per application. Depending on the amount of spring rain, recurring applications of fungicide may have to be made up to four times, resulting in a potential treatment cost of $63 million annually.

"The economic impact of this is serious. The industry needs to look at breeding for resistance into grapevines and improved control procedures," says Siebert.

Established in 1978 to raise funds for research in viticulture and enology, the AVF is a wine industry-sponsored non-profit organization funded by growers and vintners. For further information regarding the AVF or to request a copy of the economic eutypa survey, contact Executive Director Patrick Gleeson at 707-252-6911 or by e-mail at avf @napanet.net.