Flavescence dorée of grapevine

Candidatus Phytoplasma vitis

Flavescence dorée of grapevine could cause great economic losses to New Zealand's wine industry. It reduces crop yield and the quality of the crop.

About flavescence dorée of grapevine

Flavesence dorée of grapevine is a phytoplasma (type of bacteria) that causes disease in grapevines. The disease gets its name from the yellowing of the leaves. It is found inside the sugar transport system (phloem) of grapevines and in some species of leafhopper insect.

The disease is found in several European countries where grapes are grown.

Global distribution of flavescence dorée of grapevine

World map showing global distribution of flavescence dorée of grapevine

Why this is a problem for New Zealand

The flavescence dorée disease could cause great economic losses to the wine industry. It reduces growth and crop yield. The quality and quantity of grapes can be significantly reduced.

Some grape types (cultivars) are more susceptible than others. In Europe, many of the main wine growing varieties seem to be affected.

How it could get here

The disease can only be transmitted to healthy plants by grafting from infected plants or through a carrier insect (vector). It can move great distances with infected plant material or insects.

New Zealand doesn't yet have any of the important insect vectors.

Biosecurity New Zealand strives to keep New Zealand free of this disease in a number of ways. We quarantine and test any imported grapevine nursery stock. We also have strict measures to limit the chances of the insect vector arriving.

How to identify flavescence dorée

You would probably first notice its presence in early summer on a few shoots only. It can take several years for symptoms to show and they can be confused with other diseases.

Disease symptoms include:

  • stunted buds or lack of bud break
  • yellowing or reddening of leaves with curled edges
  • woody canes that ripen poorly and stay rubbery
  • shrivelled or wilted flowers and berries.
Grapevine showing reddened leaves
Source: CC licensed by Josef Klement


If you think you've found flavescence dorée

Experienced vineyard workers who've found unusual symptoms that match this disease should:

Note: This information is a summary of this disease's global distribution and potential impacts on New Zealand.

Last reviewed: