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2011 July 03 | Project Sunlight - A Winemaker's Education

Archive for July 3rd, 2011

The Vineyard Goddess and the Potato Leafhopper

The Vineyard Goddess was not happy.

Our Nelson County vineyard was looking decidedly unhealthy.  The leaves on the vines were pale, and they were full of holes.  My wife, the Vineyard Goddess, spent hours inspecting the vines, looking through books, and searching the Internet for answers.  Finally, she decided to email a photo of the not-so-healthy leaves to a Virginia Tech grape pathologist. 

Virginia Tech’s Agricultural Research and Extension Center is a wonderful resource for Virginia Viticulturists, and they could not be more helpful.  Within a few hours, she had an answer.  It was most likely an insect that was doing the damage.

Although we hadn’t seen any bugs in the vicinity, the Vineyard Goddess decided to stake out the seven vines until she found what she was looking for. She didn’t have to wait long. There, on our Mammolo Toscano – I could almost hear her shriek, “not the Mammolo!” – were two tiny green bugs.  They moved fast, but not as fast as the Vineyard Goddess.

Pinching one between thumb and forefinger, she carried it back to the house, combed through our viticulture books as well as the Internet, and made a positive ID.  It was a Potato Leafhopper. We had never heard of a Potato Leafhopper, and had no idea why it had given up on potatoes and turned to our vineyard for nutrition.  But it had.

It turns out that the Potato Leafhopper not only likes to munch on grape vine leaves, but it produces a toxic saliva that can dry up the leaves and mimic drought conditions. That explained a lot, including the curled leaves on our vines

VG immediately dusted the vines with a cure-all pesticide, and we both crossed our fingers.

Stay tuned for the next report from the front lines of our battle with this pest.

 

 

July 3, 2011 | By | Reply More
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