Controversy over efficacy of Genodics technique against vine esca

Wednesday June 09 2021 by Vitisphere

 Genodics promises a refund if the spread of the disease does not slow down by at least 30%. Genodics promises a refund if the spread of the disease does not slow down by at least 30%. - Photo credit : Genodics

Have the 140 winegrowers who installed Genodics boxes in their vineyards to limit the spread of esca been taken for a ride? This is what research carried out by the Vaucluse Chamber of Agriculture from 2018 to 2020 seems to suggest. Technicians assessed the effectiveness of sound sequences on 20-year-old Mourvèdre vines at Domaine du Bois des Dames in Vaucluse.

Starting in the northern part of the vineyard, where the box is installed, they monitored 4 rows over 400 metres, comparing the first 200, which they judged to be under the influence of the Genodic system, with the next 200, which they selected as control vines. “In this trial, the system does not seem to provide conclusive evidence that it meets its objective of reducing vine mortality”, they summarise. “The percentage of unproductive vines continued to increase”.

Contacted by Vitisphere, the founder of Genodics, Michel Duhamel, had no trouble in justifying the results of the trials. “The Chamber selected two 200-metre strips, whereas the rows are 900 metres long and, on some days, the north wind in the vineyard pushes the waves from 500 to 900 metres”, he explained.

Duhamel also pointed out that the box emits sounds three times a day for seven minutes. “If the technicians didn't come by at that time, they couldn't have realised that they were also hearing them in the control areas”.

Vineyard owner Hugues Meffre did not notice any visual differences along the length of his vine rows. “This year, I'm going to do my own counts so that I can make up my mind and decide whether to continue or not”. Duhamel added that the Genodics boxes are not supposed to stop esca, but to maintain vine productivity for longer, “from 50 to 90% depending on the year's weather, the grape variety, and the winegrowers' vineyard management techniques”.

At the Buzet co-operative winery, where 35 member growers have installed 40 boxes in Cabernet-Sauvignon blocks, Pauline Castagnié, who is tasked with vineyard monitoring, concurs with his findings. “We have gone from an 8% mortality rate to less than 2% in 2018 and less than 1% in 2020”.

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