Managing Abandoned Vineyards or Orchards
Note Number: AG1395
Published: January 2010
On farm biosecurity is critical to minimising the risk of the pest and disease. Abandoned vineyards or orchards are a potential host of pests and diseases and can be a significant concern for neighbouring properties. Farm owners have an obligation to manage the risk of an abandoned vineyard or orchard, which this Agnote sets out to explain.
If growers wish to partially or entirely abandon a vineyard or orchard they need to consider the risks that uncontrolled pests and diseases from their property may present to surrounding producers. Under Section 12 of the Plant Health & Plant Products Act 1995, a DPI inspector can order an owner to destroy pests, plants or plant products if they are affected by any disease or pest which is declared under the Act. The list of declared pests and diseases is quite extensive and can be obtained by contacting your nearest DPI Plant Standards office.
The best option for abandoned vineyards or orchards is for the property owner to kill or remove the vines or trees. This is essential because neglected host plants can harbour pests and diseases. The following actions are recommended.
In order to minimise the spread of pests and diseases the vines should be cut off around 30cm above ground level, ideally in late spring. It is preferable that the upper part of the vine be removed and burnt so it does not provide a source of infection for trunk diseases, although the dead vines could be left in situ on the trellis system. Leaving some of the lower stump provides a leverage point which may be useful when removing the vine. If the stumps are to be left in the ground, growth of suckers should be controlled. Trellis posts treated with CCA or creosote (e.g. some types of treated pine) must not be burnt or buried because they can release toxic chemicals – this material must be disposed of at a licensed landfill.
The first priority for abandoned orchards is for the owner to kill the trees and therefore remove the plant hosts for pests and diseases. The quickest way to kill trees is to cut them down leaving some of the trunk to assist stump removal. Ring-barking of trees with a chainsaw will kill the tops but the rootstock may produce suckers that will need to be controlled. Trees can also be poisoned with herbicides but this process is slower.
The most efficient way to remove orchard trees is to use an excavator to dig them out
Please note: If orchard operators stockpile dead trees on their properties with the intention of later disposal, they should also seek advice from their local council on appropriate disposal methods, particularly if they are considering burning material.
Options for abandoned orchard and vineyard neighbours
If a property is deemed infested, DPI has the power to order a property owner to destroy declared pests and diseases on their property if they pose a threat or are adversely affecting adjoining properties. If you have any concerns about a vineyard or orchard in your area being an actual source of pests and diseases and its potential to spread onto your property, the first step is to initiate a discussion with the owner and seek to resolve the issue. If negotiations fail, and your concerns are not allayed, the procedure is as follows:
Notify your closest Plant Standards, Department Primary Industry with a letter of complaint send to either:
Department of Primary Industries Victoria
Manager, Plant Standards Branch
Private Bag 15
Ferntree Gully Delivery Centre
Farm Services Victoria – Plant Standards
Program Manager Plant Standards
Tatura Centre Ferguson Road
Private bag 1
1. In your letter you must identify one or more of the declared pests or diseases you are concerned about, which you consider are spreading from the abandoned site and affecting your orchard/vineyard.
2. A senior compliance officer and a technical officer may visit the site and advise the owner that a complaint has been received (your name would not be disclosed), assess the site (including your property) and/or take samples if necessary.
3. If the assessment determines that the site is responsible for the spread of pests or disease, a letter is sent to the owner/grower (a control notice) which will require the grower to take certain action to control the relevant pests and/or diseases.
4. In the event that the owner fails to comply with the requirements of the control notice, DPI may consider legal action.
Plant Health & Plant Products Act 1995 (Section 12).
This Agnote was developed by Kieran Murphy of Farm Services Victoria in January 2010.
Published and Authorised by:
Department of Environment and Primary Industries
1 Spring Street
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