Growing Muscadines
Vitis rotundifolia

How to Grow Muscadine Grapes

Tips for growing muscadines or scuppernong grape vines. Why grow muscadine grapes? A list of bronze and purple muscadine varieties bearing perfect flowers which will self-pollinate. Care of scuppernong grapes. How to prune scuppernongs.

The muscadine grape is commercially grown in the southeastern United States to which it is native. Most of the older muscadine varieties were selection from the wilds of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The first named variety, found in North Carolina, was Scuppernong which has since become synonymous for muscadines.

Muscadine grape vines like the warm humid climate of the American south. Their dislike of cold weather limits their growth to this area and some parts of California, Oregon and Washington.

Scuppernong vines may be damaged at temperatures below 10 degrees F.

Why Grow Muscadines?

Growing muscadines, Vitis rotundifolia, in the home garden is rewarding where weather conditions make it practical because of their disease and insect resistance.

In the aforementioned areas, they perform much better than most table grapes.

In addition to their superior garden performance, muscadines produce sweeter fruit. This is especially true of the purple types.

Growing Muscadine Grapes

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All grapes require full sun and good air circulation. Muscadines are no exception.

Muscadine grape vines have shallow roots which inhabit mainly the top foot of soil. Planting muscadines in sandy soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5 will render the best results. If the pH is too high, add sulfur to the soil.

Water young vines during dry spells for the first few years after planting them. When the weather is providing regular rain, no supplemental irrigation will be necessary.

The proprer care of Scuppernong vines means regular fertilization. Apply half a pound of 10-10-10 after planting. Spread the fertilizer in bands on either side of the vines a foot from their bases. Apply another light sprinkling in late May or early June.

In the second year, apply double the amount. Each year thereafter, apply 2 pounds of fertilizer in March and half a pound in June.

Planting Muscadine Vines

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If you are planting bare root plants, keep the roots moist and keep the plants refrigerated until you plant them. Get them into the ground before bud break in March.

Set the vines 20 feet apart in the row. Allow 10-14 feet for the width of the row.

Dig a hole large enough for you to spread the roots out without crowding them. Keep the plants at the same depth they are in in the pot. Fill the hole and tamp the soil with your foot to ensure good contact with the roots. Water the vines thoroughly.

*Avoid planting Scuppernong grapes on any site where water stands after a rain.

Pruning Muscadines

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At planting, cut the muscadine plants back to the single most vigorous stem. Cut this stem back to 1 foot. Erect a muscadine trellis soon after planting. This will provide some protection for the young vine and help you to establish its early framework.

When growing muscadines, you want to train the trunk to grow straight up. As it grows, pinch out side shoots that form in the leaf axils but allow any leaves that grow on the trunk to remain.

Do not pinch out the terminal growing point of the trunk until it reaches the lowest trellis wire. Then pinch it back to 4 inches below the wire.

Tie a string from the trunk to the wire keeping enough tension on it to make it grow straight.

When new shoots form at the top of the trunk, tie them loosly to the wire. These will be the vine's first permanent fruiting arms or cordons.

Every 2 weeks (during the first year) pinch the lateral growth from the cordons back to 1 foot.

During dormancy, remove all side growth from the trunk and cut back the laterals to 2 or 3 buds.

Once the vines have been trained up the trellis, you can prune them during dormancy only. Remove all shoots not needed for cordons. Cut back all the remaining shoots to short spurs consisting of 2-3 buds.

When growing muscadines, eventually, too many spurs will form. Thin them to prevent weak shoot growth and poor fruiting.

Watch for tendrils which encircle the vine. Remove them to prevent girdling.

The best time for pruning muscadine vines is in early spring before new growth begins but after the last frost.

Muscadine Propagation

Muscadine plant cuttings are difficult to root so layer an established vine. Bend a new shoot to the ground and cover it with soil leaving the tip exposed. Do this in mid summer and by fall it will have rooted.

Muscadine Varieties

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There are varieties with imperfect flowers and varieties with perfect flowers. Those with imperfect flowers will need a perfect variety to pollinate them. One perfect flowered type will pollinate up to 8 surrounding vines with imperfect flowers.

When growing muscadines in rows, plant 1 perfect flowered vine for every 3 imperfect flowered vines.

Black /Purple Varieties with Perfect Flowers

These are self-fruitfull.

  1. Black Cowart muscadine - good yields of medium-sized fruit. Better for making Scuppernong jelly or juice than fresh eating.
  2. Nesbitt - good flavor for fresh eating. Large fruit.
  3. Noble - small fruit good for Scuppernong wine. High yeilding with excellent flavor.

Bronze Varieties with Perfect Flowers

  1. Carlos - small fruit. Very productive and vigorous vine. One of the best vines for making Scuppernong wine.
  2. Granny Val - high yields of large fruit.
  3. Dixiland - Very large fruit with a 22% sugar content on productive vines.
  4. Sterling - Large fruit and good disease resistance.
  5. Magnolia - White skin. Large fruit excellent for making muscadine wine.

More Grape-flavored Goodness:

Growing Grapes in Florida
About growing grapes in Florida. Growing muscadines. Care of Suppernongs in Fla. Land for growing grapes.

Muscadine Grape Seed
Take muscadine grape seed for many times the benefits of grape seed extract. Muscadine resveratrol content. Muscadine powder. What is grape seed extract? Grape seed supplemets.

Scuppernongs are muscadine grapes. Muscadines are larger and rounder than most other table grapes. They also have a thicker skin. You will normally see them in the markets in the fall.

Go from Growing Muscadines back to How to Grow Grapes
How to grow grapes instructs the home grower in variety and site selection for planting grape vines. Training grapes on a grape vine trellis or arbor.

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