Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.
News article for September 24, 2018
It has been awfully hot, but the calendar says it is fall. I have already started to think about fruits that can be planted in November that will flourish here.
One fruit that thrives in the heat and should come into production from August through September is muscadines. They are referred to as the “grape of the south” and are a popular source of jellies, jams and homemade wines.
The first reported variety of the muscadine was the Scuppernong vine found along the Scuppernong River in North Carolina by Sir Walter Raleigh’s colony in 1554. Since then wild muscadines have been cultivated and hybridized for adaption for home vineyards and commercial production.
Muscadines are native to our area and can become another component of a sustainable garden. The vines need a support structure, such as an existing arbor or fence. You can also build a trellis using post and wire, much like a clothes line.
Proper spacing for muscadine vines would be 20 feet apart. If you plan on having several rows you will want 12 feet between the rows.
Pollination is a big consideration. There are self-fruitful varieties which have perfect flowers and will self pollinate. There are also self-unfruitful or pistillate varieties which have only female flowers and will need a self-fertile variety nearby to provide pollen. When planting pistillate varieties it is recommended that you plant a self-fertile variety within 25 feet to ensure pollination. The cross pollination source will have no influence on the color, flavor or size of the fruit.
Muscadine fruit comes in two different colors, bronze and black. Many people will refer to muscadines as those with black fruit and scuppernongs as those with bronze fruit. As I mentioned, Scuppernongs were actually the first variety reported and it just happened to be bronze, so some people associate all bronze muscadines with the name scuppernong.
There are a number of varieties available for production and I would suggest that you try several varieties to see which you like. They all have individual characteristics that can make them attractive based on what you like.
The self- fruitful varieties you might want to consider would include Cowart- which has purple fruit of good quality, good production over a long period and very large fruit. Carlos has bronze fruit, medium size and good production with excellent juice quality. Ison has purple, medium to large fruit, good fruit quality with uniform ripening and is a good pollinator.
Self-unfruitful varieties that will grow well but need a pollinator include Scuppernong which has medium sized bronze fruit, good flavor and juice quality. Topsail has a greenish bronze large sized fruit, excellent quality juice but low in acid. Fry is a bronze variety withmedium to large fruit, good flavor and excellent fresh fruit quality. Black Fry is similar to Fry but has large purple fruit with excellent flavor. Higgins has bronze fruit of medium size with good flavor and good juice quality. Supreme has large purple fruit with good flavor and excellent fresh fruit quality.
Muscadines would be listed as medium maintenance because of their need for annual pruning. Once the vines are trained to the structure, you will need to prune about 90% of the foliage each year to get maximum productivity. Muscadines will produce fruit on new shoots arising from the previous year’s growth.