Vineyards in France, Spain and Italy are affected by esca and flavescence doree

Vineyards in France, Spain and Italy are affected

France is the first country in worldwide wine production, by sharing the 16% of world production and exporting wines worth nearly 7 billion euros per year. According to the French Institute of Wine (Institut Francais du vin), the 13% of the French vineyard are unproductive due to the infection of the vineyards during the last fifteen years. The epidemic affects almost all the vineyard in France, while it has also moved to Spain and Italy, countries with high global wine production too.

Based on data of the Institute, the devastation of vineyards caused a reduction in turnover, by one billion euros, in a sector having a turnover over 20 billion euros and 258,000 employees. The epidemics’ impact differentiates depending on the grapes varieties and the regions where the vineyards are located.

To date two diseases have been recorded causing this problem. The first one is called esca. It is a wood disease caused by a fungus. The second one is a bacterial disease known as flavescence dorée which is transmitted by Cicadellidae insects. The first disease can be only controlled by sodium arsenate treatment, which use however has been forbidden since 2011. For the second disease that affects only the vineyards of southern France, the only solution is to uproot the stricken vines.

The Research and Development Committee of the public organisation France AgriMer, announced that the losses range between 3 and 5 million hectoliters of wine per year. This amount is sufficient to cause difficulties to the country to meet market requirements. In order to face these problems it has been proposed on the one hand the observation of the wood diseases of the vine at a European level and on the other hand the amplification of the available funds in France against vine diseases.

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