Pierce’s disease has crippled the wine business in various locales on numerous occasions. That’s why officials in Texas are taking proactive steps against the vine disease, the San Antonio Express-News
Right now, the state’s newest scientific enterprise is little more than row after row of metal stakes strung with wire cables, sprawling across acreage of a small industrial park on the southern edge of the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg.
But by the end of the year, agricultural researchers expect the
crop rows will support growing grapevines that will provide a living
laboratory for Texas’ first coordinated probe into Pierce’s disease, a
bacterial plant illness that harms and hampers the state’s $1 billion
Pierce’s is a long-standing problem for grape growers in regions
of the country with mild winters. It is reported in California vineyards regularly, and extensive efforts have been made to understand the disease that spread by several varieties of insects known as sharpshooters.
But conditions are different in Texas, researchers noted at the
opening ceremonies for the Pierc”s Disease Research and Extension
There are more insects in Texas – about 20 kinds – that can spread
the disease, including the glassy-winged sharpshooter, an efficient
disease-spreader that can fly farther than other sharpshooter varieties. Texas grape growers see Pierce’s as one of the biggest impediments
to the expansion of their industry, and are optimistic that the new
research project will shed light on the best way for them to thrive,
despite the endemic disease.
Editor Robert Johnson is just back from Texas Hill Country, and is
happy to report that grape growers thus far have the upper hand on
Pierce’s disease: “Vintners tell me that it’s a concern, but they
believe the new ‘living laboratory’ will be a big help moving forward.”
Johnson will chronicle his Hill Country wine and music experiences
in his next “Editor’s Journal,” which will be posted here on July 9.