How to grow muscadines?

Contents

How to Grow Muscadine Grapes From Seed

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The muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia) is a fruit-producing vine that is indigenous to areas throughout the Southeastern United States. Muscadine grape vines are one of easiest to grow varieties for the home garden since they are both disease and pest resistant. They can be eaten raw, or used in making jams, jellies, juice and wine. Muscadine grapes are easily propagated by seed, but will not grow true from seed.

Cut the muscadine grapes in half using a sharp knife. Remove the seeds from the pulp of each grape. Set the clean muscadine grape seeds onto a paper towel to dry overnight.

Fill up 6-inch pots with enough potting mix until each is full to within approximately 1/2 from the top of the rim. Poke a 1/4 inch deep hole in the center of each of the 6-inch pots. Plant 2 muscadine grape seeds in each of the 1/4 inch deep holes.

Cover up each of the muscadine grape seeds with 1/4 inch of potting mix. Place each of the 6-inch pots where it will remain above 60 degrees F. Provide indirect light for 8 to 10 hours a day. Keep the soil in the 6-inch pots moist, but never drippy wet. Germination of muscadine grape seeds can begin in 2 to 3 weeks or require as long as 6 months to one year. Transplant the muscadine grape vines once they are 6 to 8 inches tall.

Choose a sun-filled area for planting the muscadine grape vines. Dig holes for the muscadine grape vines that are between 10 and 20 feet apart in rows that are at a minimum of 8 feet apart.

Turn the growing containers on their side and use a trowel to tap along the rim to remove the muscadine grapes vines from their growing containers.

Plant one muscadine grape vine per planting hole. Set the muscadine grape vines so they are level with the soil surface. Scoop in soil to fill the planting holes full of soil.

Water each of the muscadine grape vines with approximately 1 gallon of water. Plan on watering the muscadine grape vines if there is less than 30 inches of rainfall for the year and if there are dry spells lasting longer than 60 days. Provide 2-gallons of water per muscadine grape vine during the first year, all subsequent years provide 12 gallons of water per vine.

Spread 1/4 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer approximately 2 weeks after planting. Keep the fertilizer 12 to 14 inches away from each of the muscadine grape vines. Do this every 6 weeks until the middle of summer (July). Double the amount of fertilizer the second year of growth and apply it during the months of March, May and July as recommended by North Caroline State University.

Growing Muscadine Grapes

Muscadine grapes are hands-down favorites for home gardeners in warm climates. Follow these tips and enjoy success with growing muscadine grapes.

The fruit is exceptional for making jam, jelly and juice, and some varieties even make outstanding wine. Muscadine vines are known for being a little finicky in northern gardens and, if temperatures routinely drop below 10ºF, fruit production may be minimal. Most muscadines require cross-pollination with at least one other muscadine variety. Buy the right grape. Muscadine grapes tend to do better in warmer climates, like those of zones 7-9; some varieties of muscadine grapes can tolerate cold down to 10ºF or below. Match your muscadine grape to your location. If you are short on space, pick a self-pollinating variety like Cowart, Nesbitt, Noble, or Triumph, if it will grow in your area.

Superior choices for muscadine grape vines in the home garden:

Scuppernong is the original cultivar name given to the bronze-skinned native American muscadine grape that originated along the Scuppernong River in North Carolina. These grapes are thought to be the oldest and best-known muscadines, and the flavor is a real treat.

Fry Muscadine Grape is also a bronze grape, said to be an improved version of the Scuppernong. This variety originally comes from Georgia. These grapes love heat and humidity.

Scarlet Muscadine Grape features red-tinged fruit on a productive vine. The clusters are typically small, but the fruit quality is good.

Cowart Muscadine Grape is a large and succulent blue-black grape. The vines are self-pollinating, making Cowart an excellent choice to pollinate other muscadine varieties.

Nesbitt Muscadine Grape is a moderately vigorous vine. Originated as a cross between Fry and Cowart muscadine varieties.

Noble Muscadine Grape is a great variety for processing. The small, deep red/almost black fruit grows in large clusters. Popular choice for making muscadine wine, juice, and jelly.

Triumph Muscadine Grape vines produce large clusters of bronze-pink fruit – excellent for fresh eating with its fresh, sweet crunch. Ripe fruit may develop a slight reddish hue on the sunny side. A cross between Fry and GA 29-49.

Carlos, a relatively recent introduction from the mid-Atlantic region, is a perfect-flowered (self-pollinating) bronze variety. It mimics Scuppernong in size and flavor, and ripens at about the same time. A delicious white-wine variety, Carlos is also a favorite among vintners for its cold-hardiness, disease-resistance and abundant productivity.

Magnolia is a self-pollinating, large, white muscadine; a jewel of the species! The vine is vigorous and very productive. Tara is another similar self-pollinating and high-quality variety.

Growing Muscadine Grape Vines

Choose the right spot to plant. Above all, provide your plant a location with good drainage – grapes do not like wet feet. All muscadines need six to eight hours of sun each day and will thrive in rich, organic soil that has been mixed deep-down with ample compost or soil conditioner. A light application of phosphate-heavy fertilizer (5-10-5) is just right. Trellis your crop. Muscadines need a vertical support on which to grow. The standard is one vine per 20 feet of fence/trellis. They can also be grown on a pergola or an arbor, whatever works for your space; just allow enough breathing room for each vine.The right way to plant. Bare-root muscadine vines are best planted in springtime. Dig a hole that is twice as deep/wide as the root system of your grapevine, at the base of a trellis post. Place the bare-root vine in the hole and fan out its roots. Place the root-ball so that the area where its roots begin on the trunk is about 1″ below the soil line. Back-fill the hole 3/4 of the way full, then water to settle the soil. Add the remaining soil to fill the hole to ground level, and water once more. Prune properly. The success of your vine depends in great part on your pruning skills. Just after planting, prune your vine back to only the strongest cane. The next spring, ruthlessly prune back all but the sturdiest canes. Guide those sturdy canes upward as they grow and tie to your vine support. In successive years, keep only the strongest canes, and prune out weak, broken, dead or diseased canes. An excellent, detailed guide on pruning grapevines is available from Washington State University here:

Pruning Grapes in Home Gardens: Some Basic GuidelinesCare and feeding. Muscadines can tolerate dry spells once they’re established, but when they’re young, they need regular watering. Young vines also need irrigation during fruit production to produce plump, juicy grapes. Food-wise, fertilizer applied late in the spring is all that’s needed for your vine to flourish. A time-release 5-10-10 is a good choice. Harvest time! Now you can literally pick the fruits of your labor. Unlike bunch grapes, muscadines ripen individually over a several weeks in the late summer. You can spot ripe muscadines much like you can tomatoes: they will release from the vine without having to tug.

Disease Control for Muscadine Grape Vines:

While muscadine grape vines tend to be hearty native plants with good natural pest and disease resistance, some vines (especially in rainy locations) can be susceptible to both downy mildew and powdery mildew, which are different fungal conditions:

  • Downy mildew: Spots are angular and are found on the leaf veins. Yellowing usually occurs before you notice the fungus, which grows inside the leaf. Downy mildew is more likely to be seen on the underside of the leaf. It can appear at any stage of cluster development and if left untreated, can systemically kill the vine. Control with Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental.
  • Powdery mildew: Spots are circular, all over the leaf surface (both top and bottom). Yellowing occurs after the mildew has been active for several weeks. Control with Bonide® Copper Fungicide (Bordeaux) Spray or Dust.

If you’re already a fan of growing your own wine and table grapes, or even if you’ve never tried to, muscadine grape vines are another great addition to any garden. Find out more about growing muscadine grapes these books: Pruning Made Easy, The Berry Grower’s Companion, and The Fruit Gardener’s Bible.

Shop All Muscadine Grapes “

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General Information on Growing Muscadines

Muscadines produce best in full sun on fertile, well-drained soil with good water holding capacity.

Sites with good elevation and cold air drainage are preferred because they are less prone to late spring freezes. If full sun is not possible – Morning sunlight is the most important.

Muscadines require a pH level around 6.5. We recommend having your soil tested in January, as it takes 3 months for lime to raise the pH level, to ensure the best soil for highest growth and productions. If pH is too low a lime application may be necessary. Sometimes the ripening season on muscadines will be delayed as much as 3 weeks when the pH pf the soil is below 6.0.

Limey soil produces sweeter fruit, as a rule.

The area you are planting the muscadines should be free of weeds such as Honeysuckles, Brambles, Johnson Grass and Bermuda Grass. Your County Extension agent can help you choose the best herbicides for your area.

Muscadines are shallow rooted with most of the feeder roots in the top ½ inch of soil. To avoid damage to these roots, cultivate shallowly and only as frequently as necessary to control weeds.

Frequent clean cultivation is necessary the first two years for young vines. Remove all grass and weeds from around the plants so that growth will be vigorous the first year.

Muscadines can produce fruit for over 20 years with proper care. They will start bearing fruit the 2nd to 3rd year in the ground and will reach maximum production their 4th year. Usually between 15 and 20 years they are more prone to cold damage and will not produce as much as younger vines. Generally self-fertile varieties will produce 75 to 100 lbs of fruit per vine and female vines will produce 50 to 80 lbs per vine.

Female vines require pollination by a self-fertile variety. We recommend planting a self-fertile variety within a 50 feet radius of each female. On single row plantings you may space your pollinators throughout the row. (The more pollinators you have – your fruit yield will increase on your female plants)

A good trellis is necessary. We recommend the One-Wire Trellis using 9-gauge wire to support the vines and 8’ pressure treated posts. Caution: Wood preservative treated posts should be weathered prior to erecting the trellis so that excessive surface preservatives are washed off. If posts are not weathered, vines planted adjacent to the posts can be damaged by the wood preservative when it leaches into the root zone. Also, direct the root system away from the posts.

• End posts should be at least four inches in diameter and eight feet long. Set the end posts three feet into the ground so that the trellis wire will be five feet high. Bracing involves setting a post identical in size to the end post three feet deep, six feet from the outside brace posts. Then position a 4 x 4 timber or post between the tops pf the two posts. The horizontal beam must be longer than the posts are tall. Run a double 9-gauge wire from the top of the inside post to the bottom of the outside post. Twist the wire to tighten and secure the brace system. In heavy soils it may be possible to us a 5 to 6 inch post and drive it with a post driver and eliminate the bracing.

• Line posts, (3 to 4 inches in diameter and 6 ½ feet long) so that the wire will be 5 feet high. Spacing on the line posts should be 20 feet. We recommend row spacing 12 feet apart (ample room for a tractor or truck to drive through).

• Use no. 9-gauge galvanized wire for the trellis. Staple it to the tops of the line of posts with 1.5-inch staples (commonly called horse shoe nails). Leave the staple just loose enough so that the wire is not held rigidly. If the wire is bound too tightly to the staple it may break. The wire is brought over the top of the end post, tightened, wrapped around the end posts and stapled.

• Ease of training, picking and pruning, lower construction cost, time and good spray coverage are the main advantages of the one wire trellis system.

In general, Muscadines are among the last plant types to leaf out in the spring. They have a low chilling hour requirement in the 200-500-hour range. However, they have a very high heat accumulation requirement in the spring before they will break bud and grow. This characteristic keeps the plants dormant many times until late into the spring.

Planting Your Muscadines:

Vines may arrive with more than 1 runner. Prior to planting remove all runners except the longest one. This one runner will be trained up to the wire.

Muscadines produce their greatest concentration of fruit near the trunk, so we recommend planting the vines approx. 12-16 inches from the trellis posts.

Layered plants require a trench like hole large enough for the roots to spread out and not be cramped. Make holes at least 8 – 12 inches deep. Space plants 20 feet apart for maximum fruit production but no closer than 12 to 15 feet

* Place the vine in the hole with the roots about 3 inches below the ground.

* Fill the hole half full of topsoil.

* Pack the dirt and add enough water to make soil pack around roots.

* Then fill to ground level.

* DO NOT add fertilizer in the planting hole and DO NOT fertilize when planting.

In late fall and winter we recommend backing the dirt up 8 to 12 inches high around plants to protect them from freezing.

Developing the Vine:

Diligent care the first 2 growing seasons following planting is essential. Vines generally die the year of planting if particular attention is not given. The following areas are the most important to your vine:

1. Water is vital for the growth of the plant. We recommend 24 gallons of water per week on developing vines and 36 gallons of water per week on established vines. You want the soil to be moist 2 inches deep. We recommend installing drip irrigation on your vines to ensure that they receive the proper water. The last few summers have been extremely dry and many of our customer lost plants due to drought.

2. Fertilizing as recommended below.

3. Keeping the plant area weed free and the proper training must be done.

A properly trained vine has a trunk, two arms and fruiting spurs. The first two years of training are devoted to developing the trunks and arms. In the spring following planting, each plant will begin growing and may produce 3 or 4 shoots.

When these shoots are about 1 foot long, select the strongest and remove the others. Tie a piece of durable string such as a binder’s twine to the overhead wire and bend a piece of wire bent into a 9 shape and place in the ground beside the trunk. It should be taut enough so that as the new shoots grow it can be twined around the string to form a straight trunk for the plant.

Long tomato stakes may also be used and the vines fastened to the stake with cloth or plastic tying ribbon. While you are training the main shoot, pinch developing shoots in axils of the leaves of the young trunk.

DO NOT, however, remove the leaves from the trunk. When the shoot reaches 2-3 inches below the wire, pinch the top of the trunk. Let the two buds develop into the two arms and train each arm in opposite directions.

After the plant has attached itself to the trellis wire, be sure to remove any tags from the trunk to avoid girdling of the vine. Periodically, tie the young cordons to the wire with ties (available at your local hardware store or farmer’s co-op) until each is 10 feet long. Then pinch out the terminal.

Permanent arms of adjacent plants should be tip to tip.

Fertilization For Muscadines:

We recommend using 10-10-10 fertilizers on the following schedule:

1st Year April 1 – May 1 – June 1 – July 1

Apply ¼ pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer 12 inches out from the plant in a complete circle

April 15 – May 15 – June 15 – July 15

Apply ¼ pound of Calcium Nitrate. This will add nitrogen to the soil to increase growth. If unable to find Calcium Nitrate you may use Ammonia Nitrate but only use 1/8 pound per plant.

2nd Year April 1 – May 1 – June 1 – July 1

Apply ½ pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer 12 inches out from the plant in a complete circle

April 15 – May 15 – June 15 – July 15

Apply ½ pound of Calcium Nitrate. This will add nitrogen to the soil to increase growth. If unable to find Calcium Nitrate you may use Ammonia Nitrate but only use 1/4 pound per plant.

3rd Year Use 3 lbs of 10-10-10 on May 1st

4th Year Fertilize as needed depending on growth of your vines

• Fertilizer Tips:

* Do not place fertilizer in the hole when planting your vines.

* Muscadines need an average of 3 to 4 feet of growth vertically each growing season. If growth is less, increase fertilizer the next year. If growth is more then decrease fertilization the next year.

* Never use manure, sawdust, pine straw or cottonseed mote in or around plants.

* Never use 2-4-5T (Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid) in or around vineyard.

Growing Information & Tips:

Muscadines are considered disease resistant, but there are several diseases that can be a problem. There are also things that you can do to help decrease the chances of disease. Once your vines begin producing, make sure that you knock off all fruit prior to the winter months to decrease chances of disease. Berries that are left on the vine over winter can cause problems in the spring.

Black Rot is a common disease fro muscadines. In early spring the fungus can infect new growth as soon as it appears or later in the growing season. The signs of the fruit infection are dry, black scabby spots. Leaf infections appear as tiny reddish brown spots on the upper surface. The spots enlarge to ¼ inch or more in diameter and turns dark brown. A ring of black fungus spores develops near the edge of the brown area.

Ripe Rot is another common disease. It over winters on stem lesions and on mummified berries left on the vine. It primarily damages the fruit but can affect the vines and tendrils.

Symptoms on mature fruit appear as somewhat bleached fruit or water soaked spots.

To help decrease disease on your vines, we recommend using the fungicide “Captan” on your vines. We recommend two tablespoons of Captan per gallon of water. Do not start spraying until the leaves on the vines reach the size of a half dollar. You can spray your vines every two weeks up until two weeks prior to picking your fruit.

Sometimes you may have problems with insects such as Japanese Beetles. We recommend using “Sevin” or “Malithion”. Use 2 tablespoons per gallon of water. Also use a little dish detergent as a surfactant to help the mixture stay on the leaves.

DO NOT, EVER SPRAY YOUR VINES DURING BLOOM.

Pruning Tips for Muscadines:

Prune all side growth back to 3-4 buds in late February to early March

Note: If there is no fork on side growth, prune back to 3-4 buds

Note: If there is a fork on the side growth, leave 1-2 buds of fork remaining.

Links to Muscadine Recipies:

Home Garden Muscadines

Circular 949 View PDF picture_as_pdf

Reviewed by Bob Westerfield

Original Manuscript by Gerard Krewer and Stephen Myers, Extension Horticulturists

  • What You Need
  • Planting the Vines
  • Constructing the Trellis
  • Developing the Vine
  • Fertilizing Muscadines
  • Insects and Diseases

Muscadines are truly a fruit for the south. They were discovered here by the early colonists and have been a favorite fruit of southerners since. Although muscadines can be grown successfully in most parts of the state, they are best adapted to the Piedmont and Coastal Plain areas. The severe winters of the Mountain area hamper production.

Are you enjoying muscadines now? If not, you may want to try a vine or two. Muscadines are ideal for backyard gardens because you can successfully grow them with a minimum spray program.

What You Need

  1. A sunny spot. Muscadines do best when they are in full sun for most of all the day. Muscadines do fairly well on most soil types. Do not plant in a spot where water stands after heavy rains.
  2. A good trellis. Muscadines vines may live for decades, so, you want a strong supporting structure made of materials that will last for many years. Wooden posts should be pressure treated with wood preservatives.
  3. Hand-size pruning shears. If you prune properly and on a yearly basis, you should not need large pruning tools.
  4. Good plants. Muscadine varieties can be broken into four categories: two based on fruit color (black or bronze), and two based on flower type: perfect flowered (self-pollinating) and female. If you plan to grow only one vine, it can be black or bronze, but must be perfect flowered if you plan to enjoy fruit. Female varieties produce no pollen. Therefore, they should be inter-planted with perfect flowered varieties for proper pollination and fruit set. (See Table 1).

Planting the Vines

Muscadines will require a minimum 20 feet of trellis per plant. Therefore, measure the area where you will plant the vines. That way, you will know how many plants to purchase. If you plan to have more than one row, space the rows 12 feet apart. Once you have determined how many plants to buy, lay out the area by putting stakes where the trellis posts will go. The posts should be 20 feet apart. Plant the muscadines 1 foot from the post since the crop load is usually heaviest in the center of the vine.

To plant, dig a hole large enough to accommodate a bushel basket. Adjust the soil pH to 6.0 to 6.5. If you do not know the pH, take a soil sample. If you do not want to take a soil sample, thoroughly mix ½ cup of agricultural limestone (dolomitic type) to the soil taken from the hole. Then, plant the vine the same depth it grew in the nursery and water it. Following watering, cut the plant off. Leave about six inches of the plant above the soil line. Caution: Do not put fertilizer in the planting hole. Do not apply fertilizer immediately after planting.

Constructing the Trellis

The one wire trellis (Figure 1) and the double curtain trellis (Figure 2) are the two most common trellises used by backyard gardeners. The one wire trellis is easier to construct, but yields are greater from the double curtain. If space is limited, the double curtain should be used to maximize production.

Figure 1. A one wire trellis with established vine.

One Wire Trellis – Use the single wire trellis system in south Georgia because of fruit disease problems. End posts should be 5- or 6-inch pressure-treated, 8-foot posts. Set them 3 feet deep and angle them slightly away from each other. Line post(s) should be 4 inches in diameter and 7 feet long. Set them 2 feet deep in a vertical position. Use no. 9 wire to support the vines. Wrap the trellis wire around one end post near the top. Staple it securely several times. Then run it across the top of the end post and staple it loosely. Next, run the wire over the tops of the line posts. Staple the wire loosely to the tops of these posts. Staple the wire loosely to the top of the other end post. Then, pull the wire tight. Wrap it around the end post and staple it tightly several times. The wire should be 5 feet above and parallel to the ground.

Figure 2. A double curtain trellis with established vines.

Double Curtain Trellis – The double curtain trellis provides two wires 4 feet apart and 5 feet above ground. This permits each vine to produce 40 feet of fruiting arm rather than the conventional 20 feet with the one wire system.

Figure 2 is an example of a double curtain trellis made with pressure treated wood. Four-inch galvanized pipe welded to form the “T” shaped end posts can also be used. Regardless of the materials used. Regardless of the materials used, they should conform closely to the specifications shown in Figure 2. The wires should be parallel to the ground.

Developing the Vine

Diligent care during the two growing seasons following planting is essential if the vines are to develop into productive additions to the home garden. Vines generally die the year of planting if particular attention isn’t given them. Watering as needed, fertilizing as recommended, keeping the area around the young plants weed free, and proper training must be done if success is to be realized.

A properly trained vine has a trunk, two (or four) arms and fruiting spurs. The first two years of training are devoted to developing the permanent trunk and fruiting arms.

In the spring following planting, each plant will produce three or four shoots. When these shoots are about 1 foot long, select the strongest and remove all the others. Tie a string to a small stake. Drive the stake in the ground. Place it about 3 inches from the plant.

For the One Wire Trellis, do the following: Tie the free end of the string to the trellis wire. Train the shoot to the string. Pinch off side shoots as they develop. When the shoot reaches the top wire, pinch it off just below the wire. Let the top two buds form the two arms along the trellis wire.

For the Double Curtain Trellis, do the following: Immediately above the young vine, tie a piece of string between the two wires. Then tie the free end of the string attached to the stake to the middle of the string connecting the two wires. The two strings should form a “Y.” Train the shoot to the string. When the shoot reaches the string connected to the two wires, pinch out the tip. Let the top two buds develop. Train these shoots to the strings leading to the trellis wire. Once they reach the wire, pinch out the tips and let the top two buds form the two arms along the trellis wire.

For either trellis system, shoots other than the arms growing from the trunk should be kept pinched back. Once the trunk and arms have developed, the vine is ready to begin fruiting. Shoots (also called canes) will grow each year from the young arms.

Figure 3. Example of spurs.

Since muscadine fruit are borne on new shoots arising from last year’s growth, you should prune back the canes that grew the previous year, leaving about 3 inches of growth to form spurs. Prune in February or early March. Don’t be alarmed if the vines “bleed” at pruning cuts. Bleeding does not harm the vines.

When you leave too many buds on the vine, the plant over produces and fruit are poor. After three or four years of production, you will need to remove every other spur cluster to prevent overcrowding. Try to leave spurs that are on the top of the arms (Figure 3). It is a good idea to remove old fruit stems since they are a source of disease.

Remove tendrils that wrap around the arms or spurs. (Tendrils are finger-like plant parts muscadines use to attach themselves to their supporting structure.) If tendrils are not removed, they will girdle the arms or spurs and cause reduced production. Remove old fruit stems if fruit rots are a problem since the disease may overwinter in the old stems.

Table 1. Muscadine Varieties
Variety Flower Type Size Color Main uses
*Carlos P.F. Medium Bronze Juice, wine Productive.
Cowart P.F. Large Black Fresh eating Good flavor.
Dixie P.F. Medium Bronze Juice, wine Good cold tolerance.
Dixieland (Pat.) P.F. V. Large Bronze Fresh eating Vines lack.
Doreen P.F.y Medium Bronze Juice wine Very productive. Good winter hardiness.
Dulcet F. Medium Black Fresh eating Good flavor.
*Fry F. V. Large Bronze Fresh eating Fruit rot & winter injury a problem; excellent flavor.
Golden Isles P.F. Medium Bronze Juice, wine Non-musky aroma.
*Granny Val (Pat.) P.F. Large Bronze Fresh eating Late season. Vines may lack vigor; cold tender.
Higgins F. Large Bronze-pink Fresh eating Mild flavor; late season.
Jumbo F. V. Large Black Fresh eating Low sugar content.
*Loomis F. Med-large Black Fresh eating Excellent flavor.
Magnolia P.F. Medium Bronze Juice, wine Good flavor; good winter hardiness.
*Nesbitt P.F. V. Large Black Fresh eating Good cold tolerance.
*Noble P.F. Small Black Juice, wine Productive.
Scuppernong F. Medium Bronze Wine, fresh eating Very old variety; low yields.
*Summit F. Large Bronze-pink Fresh eating Good winter hardiness; more disease-resistant than Fry.
*Tara P.F. Large Bronze Fresh eating Fairly good flavor.
*Triumph P.F. Med-large Bronze-pink Fresh eating Early season.
* = Probably the best.; y = P.F. = Perfect flowered (pollen and fruit).; F. = Female flowered (fruit only).

Fertilizing Muscadines

First year

Apply fertilizer three times: (1) ½ pound of 10-10-10 or equivalent after the plants have been settled by rain, (2) 2 ounces of ammonium nitrate in late May, and (3) 2 ounces of ammonium nitrate in early July. Broadcast each application over a 2-foot circle centered on the plant.

Second year

Timing and method are the same as the first year. Double the rate for each application. Increase the diameter of the broadcast circle to 4 feet.

Third year

If the vine has grown well the first two years and you expect a crop, apply 2 pounds of 10-10-10 or equivalent per vine in March. Apply 1 pound of 10-10-10 per vine in May. Broadcast in a 6-foot circle. If plants have not done well, fertilize as instructed for the second year.

Established vines – Apply 3 to 5 pounds of 10-10-10 or equivalent per plant in March of each year. Then apply ½ pound of ammonium nitrate around June 1.

Check the soil pH about every three years. Your county extension agent has kits for sampling. If liming is necessary, use the dolomitic lime.

Special Fertilization

Grapes have a relatively high requirement for magnesium. Each year, hundreds of Georgians have grape vines that suffer from a shortage of magnesium. This shows up as yellowing between the veins of older leaves. This yellowing progresses up the shoots as the leaves grow older. Premature fruit fall may also result.

To prevent or correct magnesium deficiency, apply Epsom salts at the rate of 2 to 4 ounces for one- and two-year-old vines; 4 to 6 ounces for older vines. Be sure to evenly broadcast Epsom salts over a 3- to 6-foot area.

Insects and Diseases

Occasionally, disease and/or insect infestation may be severe enough to warrant spraying. If you find it necessary to spray, contact your county extension agent for recommendations.

Status and Revision History
Published on Jan 01, 2001
Unpublished/Removed on Feb 24, 2009
Published on Apr 20, 2009
Published with Full Review on Aug 09, 2012
Published with Minor Revisions on Mar 09, 2015
Published with Full Review on May 25, 2017

Growing Muscadines

Muscadines just make the season sweeter. As they ripen in August and September, clusters of pinks, purples, greens, blacks, or bronzes hover among the vines. The air oozes with the fragrance of their nectar. Life is good.

Getting Started

These native Southern grapes (Vitis rotundifolia) are the perfect fruit for the backyard gardener. Though the best time to plant the vines is during late fall or early winter, you can go ahead and look at catalogs and nurseries now to choose the types you plan to use. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Which one should you grow?
This is the fun part. There are lots of selections, each with its own flavor, sugar content, and ripening time. What really determines the type you should choose is how you want to use them. Most are good for snacking. Others are great for making jam, jelly, juice, and wine. So do a little homework, and talk to the folks at your local nursery. Refer to The Southern Living Garden Book for descriptions of various selections. Note: There are two different kinds of muscadines: self-fertile types, which are self-pollinating, and self-sterile (female) types, which must be planted near self-fertile types to produce fruit. See “Editor’s Homegrown Favorites” at above, right for two great picks.

Where do you plant them?
Select a sunny location with good air circulation. The vines prefer well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 6.5.

What do you feed them?
Fertilize with a balanced (14-14-14 or 10-10-10) product in early spring. Then in early summer, feed them again with a balanced fertilizer. If you notice leaves are yellowing, apply a supplement of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) in the summer.

How do you train them?
Construct a sturdy, 5-foot-high single-wire trellis for your vine using a No. 9 or No. 10 galvanized wire. Support the trellis with 7-foot-long treated posts sunk 2 feet into the ground and spaced 20 feet apart. When planting, center the vine between the posts. Select the strongest runner to become the main trunk. Remove any spurs (side shoots) along the trunk. Use a bamboo or tomato stake to get your vine started up toward the horizontal wire. When your vine reaches the top of the wire, pinch out its tip, and let lateral arms develop along the wire. Spurs that develop along these arms will bear fruit in about two years. Once established, plants can live for decades.

When do you water them?
It is very important to provide adequate moisture during the first year. Once established, muscadines are quite drought tolerant. If they receive regular rainfall during the spring and summer, your vines will produce fine. However, for more and larger fruit, water your plants weekly (if you don’t receive regular rainfall) in the spring and summer when the fruit is developing. Mulching with about 2 inches of pine bark will help preserve moisture and keep roots cool.

Why should you prune them?
Muscadines fruit on new wood, so it is important to provide an annual winter pruning. Once the trunk has reached the trellis wire and the lateral arms are established, clip the spurs so they are spaced 6 to 10 inches apart and cut back to three buds.

Muscadines are now in season. Purchase grapes at the grocery store, your local farmers market, or a you-pick vineyard in your area.

Featured Recipes:

  • Muscadine Pudding Tarts
  • Scuppernong Jelly
  • Scuppernong Juice
  • Scuppernong-Orange Glaze
  • Scuppernong-Orange Glazed Pork Loin

This article is from the September 2005 issue of Southern Living.

Growing Muscadine Grapes in Florida

“Growing Muscadine Grapes in Florida”
By: Jiang Lu, Cynthia Connolly & Joe Spinelli

The Early settlers attempted to grow European grapes in Florida over 300 years ago. Through centuries of experimentation, however, grape growers found that non-native grapevines could not endure the state’s climate. In the 1930’s grape research and breeding programs were initiated at Florida’s universities.

Two distinct types of grapes thrive in the state today. They are Florida hybrid bunch grapes which grow in the typical grape bunch formation and Muscadine grapes which grow in small clusters. Both are used for fresh fruit, wine, jelly, and juice.

Muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundifolia) are native to Florida and southeastern United States. They are enjoyable and easy to grow.

The first step in growing Muscadines is to obtain plants. Rooted cuttings are used for planting grapevines. You can use either bare root vines or potted plants and you can either purchase them from a nursery or propagate them yourself.

Planting

Early spring is the best time for planting. Holes 8″ in depth and 6″ to 8″ in diameter should be dug with either a shovel or a tractor driven auger. Under dry conditions, a gallon of water should be poured into the hole before planting. One year old potted plants should be placed directly in the hole without disturbing the root ball. Plants which have been in pots for more than a year may be root bound, however, and the roots should be separated at planting. After placing the plant into the hole, firm the soil around it and water it immediately. Continue watering the newly transplanted vines at least once a week to ensure their survival. Provide a straight support (twine, bamboo, wood or plastic sticks, etc.) to help the plant climb to the trellis. New shoots should start to grow within a couple of weeks after planting.

Training

It is important to train the young plants by tying one strong shoot to a straight support and pruning off all the other shoots. This strong shoot will be the main stem or trunk of the vine and should grow straight up to the trellis wire. When the main stem is about six inches above the trellis or fruiting wire, select two lateral shoots growing in opposite directions from below the trellis wire to form the cordons and cut off the main stem above these shoots to force them to grow. These shoots should be tied to the wire, leading their growing tips in desired directions forming the bilateral cordons.

Fertilizer

Any material that supplies nutrients to growing plants is a fertilizer. Fertilizer should be applied to plants about two weeks after the vines start to grow. Approximately 1/4 pound of 10-10-10 should be placed in a circle 6″ from the new plants. One half and 3/4 of a pound are recommended for two and three year old plants, respectively. A second and third application may be made at the same rate after six and twelve weeks of growth. Organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion, compost, crabmeal, or cottonseed meal may be used as an alternative.

Irrigation and Weed Control

Water the vines about once a week to saturate the roots if there is no rain. Prevent weeds from competing with the vines by shallow hoeing (so as not to damage the grape plant’s roots), mowing, or applying herbicide whenever necessary.

First Pruning and Second Season Growth

To ensure good fruit production, pruning of the past season’s growth should be done each winter when the leaves have dried and fallen off the vines and the plants are dormant between January and February. After the lateral shoots have been established as cordons, canes extending from them should be pruned back to spurs. These spurs should have 3-4 buds on them. In the spring of the second growing season, as these buds break and produce new shoots, all flower clusters should be removed to concentrate growth in the vine. Vines which do not reach to the trellis wire should be retained to grow to the wire in the second year. At bud break of the second year, plants should be fertilizer with 1/2 pound of 10-10-10 per plant. This should be repeated after six and twelve weeks.

Second Pruning and Third Season Growth

In the winter after the second growing season, canes grown from the previous year’s buds should be pruned back to three buds per spur. When buds begin to grow in early spring, apply fertilizer (3/4 pound of 10-10-10 per plant) and repeat application six weeks and the twelve weeks later. Weeds should be controlled to avoid competition with the grapevines for nutrients and water. By the third season of growth the bilateral cordon should be well established and fruit may be harvested.

Forth Season Onward

Prune the vines after the third season of growth while the plants are dormant as before. Fertilize at bud break and again at six weeks and twelve weeks. Water weekly in the absence of rain and control weeds. Sufficient water and nutrients at bud break are very important to ensure a vigorously growing vine and good fruit set. Remove suckers from the trunk below the trellis.

Harvesting

Harvesting of fruit should begin in the third season. Muscadine grapes may be picked individually or shaken off the vine into a net suspended from a catch frame.

Disease Control

Fungal diseases such as anthracanose, black rot, and downy mildew are common in Florida grapes. Muscadines have fewer disease problems than bunch grapes. Disease susceptibility, however, varies with different cultivars. Sanitary and healthy soil and growing conditions are the best means to prevent disease. Fungicides may be used to control diseases. Check with your county extension agent to determine approved products.

The Most Trusted Name in Muscadines

Product Description

Muscadine vines ship between late November and late April.

The Ison muscadine vine is a beautiful black variety that is the best self-fertile available. The Ison muscadine contains 19% sugar and has excellent size and production. The Ison muscadine vine produces some of the best wine available because of its taste and flavor.

The Ison muscadine skin is edible and the most nutritious part of the grape. This muscadine vines fruit ripens uniformly early to mid-season. The Ison muscadine vine produces beautiful large clusters. The Ison is great for all uses. All of our red jellies at preserves at our nursery are made with the Ison muscadine. The Ison muscadine produces some of the best juice we have ever tasted. Developed here at Ison’s Nursery and one of the varieties we are most proud of. Patent Protected #5822.

Available Plant Sizes:

2 Year Bare-root – The majority of the plants we grow are 2 year bare-root. The average length of the vines are 2-4′ with an excellent root system.

2 Year Plus Bare-root – These are the largest and highest quality plants that we offer. They have had exceptional growth, have an excellent root system and average 4-6′ foot in length. These vines will be very close to reaching the top wire on your trellis.

Muscadine planting instructions and how to videos.

*** We recommend ***

Adding BLUE-X Plant Shelters to your muscadine vines. BLUE-X Grapevine Shelters create a beneficial microclimate for each grapevine. The increased humidity and carbon dioxide levels in the growtubes accelerate plant growth and enhance vine survival. This will increase vine growth up to 150% the first year and will increase fruit yields your first harvest season. As an added benefit they protect young vines from rodents, rabbits and other herbivores.

We offer the only shelter on the market today that takes advantage of beneficial blue light!
It’s a small cost but offers a big reward for your vineyard.

To order Blue-X Plant Shelters

Muscadine & Scuppernong Grape Vines

Muscadine and scuppernong grapes are native North American grapes indigenous to the lower half of the United States. These Southern grapes are much larger individual berries than bunch grapes, but grow in smaller pods or bunches and have a thicker skin. Researchers have discovered the seed of muscadines to have cancer preventing properties, so many commercial growers now make more money selling the seeds to pharmaceutical companies than they make on other juice or wine products. Male and female muscadines are purple or black while male and female scuppernongs are bronze or golden. However, a scuppernong is a muscadine. So, a golden colored muscadine is called a scuppernong. Muscadines are thought of as a traditional southern grape only, however, muscadines are zoned by the USDA for growing zones 6-10. Zone 6 includes a large area from Massachusetts to Kansas. So whether you live in the deep south or the northern United States, muscadines are a delicious, healthy, and easy grape to grow in your home vineyard. Just remember to plant male and female muscadines and scuppernongs to ensure huge crops of scrumptious grapes. Discover more grape vines for sale.

How To Grow Muscadine Grapes

If you want to grow grapes in the south, you need to learn how to grow muscadine grapes. You also need to grow muscadine grapes if you want to binge drink away your memory of a Zombie attack have a nice glass of wine during a collapse.

Other grape varieties, such as “champagne,” “Concord” and other popular varieties, just won’t live long-term in the south. Eventually, all succumb to diseases… except for the hearty and easy to grow muscadine varieties.

Why Muscadines?

Muscadine grapes are improved varieties of one species of wild grape native to the New World: Vitis rotundifolia. They have that wild vigor in them still and their growth is a marvelous thing to behold.

I’ve been growing muscadine grapes for five years now and have found them ridiculously easy to grow. I can forget to feed and water them… and they thrive. I can skimp on the pruning… and they thrive. I can let them grow in half-shade in a gravely piece of the yard… and they thrive.

If you want to grow grapes, muscadines are what you should grow. Most of the grape-growing problems I’ve encountered with my gardening clients is related to having non-muscadine grapes on their homestead. Trust me: the classic French/Californian/Greek grapes will die here. It’s a matter of when, not if! You’ll see them sold in the garden centers in later winter and early spring but resist them temptation.

If it’s not a muscadine, it won’t do fine!

Now let’s look at how to grow muscadines.

The first thing grapes need is a good trellising system. Something as simple as a chainlink fence will work; however, they’re hard to prune properly when they’re wrapped all in and out of a fence. Not impossible, but tough.

The Grape Trellis

Though I’ve experimented with a two-wire grape trellising system and with growing grape vines on fences, my favorite method has become the single-wire method.

Image from www.walterreeves.com.

It’s a simple and easy to build grape trellis, plus it’s quite good for picking.

I concrete in the end posts since they hold a lot of the wire’s tension, then hammer in center posts for support every 12-16 feet or so.

Muscadine Varieties

Muscadines come in all types. Pretty much anything but seedless. My favorites are the big gold varieties; however, there are also nice black and bronze muscadine varieties you can grow. The old cultivars like Carlos and Fry are still great, or you can try newer patented varieties.

Whatever you do, just make sure you plant at least two different vines. Muscadine grapes need to be pollinated by a different cultivar. Just grab at least two types with two different names.

Getting Grapes in the Ground

A good commercial spacing on muscadines might run 16′ apart. I’ve planted them as close as 6′, but I’ve found that to be a big mess when it comes to pruning and harvesting. The vines are terrifyingly vigorous and will run a good 20 or more feet down the wires in a season and tangle all together in a profusion. I’d go at least 10′ apart – you really don’t need to overplant.

Plant your grapes and keep them mulched, weeded and watered carefully until they’re growing happily. The first year is key. After that, I found they do fine just on rainfall.

Fertilizing Muscadine Grapes

Muscadine grapes will benefit from a hit or three of fertilizer during the spring and summer. 10-10-10 with minor nutrients is fine, though I’ve fed mine on compost, rabbit manure and compost tea and had them do wonderfully without any chemical fertilizer. You can feed with slow-release organic matter like manure/compost any time. If you’re using something like blood meal or 10-10-10, however, just feed ’em at the beginning of the year as they’re waking up, then another hit or two into the summer… not later in the year when they’re moving towards going dormant for the winter.

Pruning Muscadine Grapes

Pruning is no big deal. You’re going to cut the living daylights out of the vines if you’re doing it right. If you’re not chopping them like mad, you’re not getting them to hit their full potential.

Here’s a video I did on how to prune muscadine grape vines:

See how far I cut them back? Do this during the winter or very early spring before the grapes wake up and start budding and blooming. The growth they’ll put on after pruning is a marvelous thing.

If you build a good trellis, plant your grapes and get them established and well-fed, plus keep them pruned… they’ll reward you.

More on How To Grow Muscadine Grapes

Finally, since I’m just a backyard grape grower and not a pro, I interviewed my friend Dave Taylor this last week about growing muscadine grapes. He’s got a nice little commercial U-pick muscadine grape operation in north/central Florida and has had great success in growing muscadines. I can vouch for the flavor – they’re incredible! He has over 15 varieties, including the delicious concord and muscadine hybrid cultivar Southern Home.

Check out his thoughts on grape growing:

BTW, these are the wire strainers/wire ratchets that Dave uses on his grapes. I use them as well and they work excellently.

If you’re growing grapes, leave a comment – I’d love to hear how you’re trellising and caring for grapes on your homestead!

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