Thursday, January 22, 2015

Muscadine and Scuppernong Grape Vines

The Muscadine Grape is native to the southeastern United States.  The Scuppernong Grape is named for the Scuppernong River in North Carolina and it is a large variety of the Muscadine Grape which fruit is greenish or bronze in color with a translucent flesh.  The Muscadine Grapes come in light and dark purple, reds and blacks, and its flesh is also translucent.

The muscadine grapes are pest and insect tolerant--no spraying of pesticides needed.  They thrive in sandy loam or loamy sand and do well in clay with added material to break up the clay; however, it does require good irrigation and drainage.  In addition, it is important to keep the area free of weeds so that you avoid mowing new shoots for propagation (if so desired).

One problem with the muscadine vines is that "animal pests" such as raccoons, squirrels, opossums, and crows also like these grapes.  It may be necessary to let these critters know that the grapes are for your consumption, not theirs.

The grape vines are also easy to plant:  dig a two by two feet hole for each plant leaving a few feet between, much depending on your trellis, arbor, fence or other contraption for the rambling vines.  Add commercial cow manure and mix it in with the native dirt in the hole.  You may have to loosen the roots before planting.  Do not add any fertilizer at this time.  Wait until the plants begin to show growth and then add 8-8-8 fertilizer along with Ironite (trace elements).  The best time for planting is now through next month.

A couple of years ago, we planted two muscadines and two scuppernongs and let them grow free and wild--big mistake.  Now we have to do some serious pruning to see if we can get one main "trunk" and train the branches to spread out from there on the two tier vertical wires.

The muscadine is asexual and one easy method  to propagate muscadine  is to "wound a low growing shoot by making successive cuts in the bark and then cover it with moist soil."  Roots should form in a few months.

The best selection of cultivars for your area is to find out what plants are offered in nurseries and garden centers.  One of our earlier cultivars was Carlos and it gets great reviews from UF IFAS.  Carlos should produce a lot of medium sized, bronze grapes that are good for wine, juice, and jellies.

At this time, the muscadines are bare sprigs sitting in the ground but flowers should show in April and the grapes should be ready to harvest in September.

Source:  The University of Florida IFAS Extension, Solutions for Your Life, has the most informative report on the Muscadine Grape that covers growth care, and cultivars complete with tables and listings on yields and weights.  They also recommend the best cultivars and lists pros and cons for the various plants.

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