Muscadine Grapes Frequently Asked Questions



From the Horticultural Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida Nassau County Extension


Q: Are my grapes Scuppernong or muscadine?

A: The muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia Michx.) is native to the southeastern United States and was the first native grape species to be cultivated in North America.Musadine Grape The natural range of muscadine grapes extends from Delaware to central Florida and occurs in all states along the Gulf Coast to east Texas. Muscadine grapes will perform well throughout Florida, although performance is poor in high alkaline soils or in soils with very poor drainage. These grapes do not like to be in areas where water is likely to drain off slowly or near retention ponds. There are three species within the Muscadania subgenera (Vitis munsoniana, Vitis popenoei and Vitis rotundifolia ). Wild muscadine grapes are functionally dioecious meaning they have male and female vines. Male vines account for the majority of the wild muscadine grape population. Muscadine grapes are late in breaking bud in the spring and require 100-120 days to mature fruit. Typically, muscadine grapes in the wild bear dark fruit with usually 4 to 10 fruit per cluster. Bronze-fruited muscadine grapes are also found in the wild, and they are often referred to as scuppernongs. There are hundreds of named muscadine grape cultivars from improved selections, and in fact, one that has been found in the Scuppernong river of North Carolina has been named Scuppernong. So to directly answer your question, not all muscadines are Scuppernong but all Scuppernongs are muscadines and yours is a muscadine. How about that for a tongue twister! There are over 100 improved cultivars of muscadine grapes varying in size from 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 4 to 15 grams in weight. Skin color ranges from light bronze to pink to purple to black. Flesh is clear and translucent for all muscadine grape berries. One reason for the popularity of muscadine grapes is that they are a sustainable fruit crop in the southeastern United States. They are tolerant of insect and disease pests, and homeowners can successfully grow muscadine grapes without spraying any pesticides. For more complete information on planting, fertilization, pruning, etc. look over the following UF/IFAS publication:
The Muscadine Grape from the University of Florida pdf


Q: I bought some expensive merlot grape vines and was told I could grow them here. However, they are just sitting in the ground and not growing at all. I was hoping they would spread quickly and cover my arbor.

A: There are always exceptions to what we recommend growing here and what might actually survive. However, there are some limitations based on the plant varieties, soil types and overall climate conditions which restrict what we really should try to grow here. We easily grow Muscatine grapes. Some of the Muscatine grapes are grown for their fresh fruit and others for their ability to make wine. Unfortunately, we really cannot grow the type of grapes used for fine wine making similar to those grown in Europe or California. Merlot, for example, prefers mild climates with long, hot, dry growing seasons and moderate winter temperatures. While we often have mild winters, we seldom have the hot, dry growing seasons. We are far too humid and often too wet for these grapes to do well. In addition, some of the Merlot grapes prefer cool, deep sandy loam – we have warm, sandy soils. The soil needs to hold moisture but cannot be wet. You could easily cover your arbor using a muscadine or even a wild grape variety. I have attached the University of Florida publication on muscadine grapes to better inform you about your potential choices.


Q: What is eating my grape vine?

Larvae of the Grape Flea Beetle, Altica chalybea (Illiger)

A: Most likely the holes you see in the grape leaves are from the larvae of the Grape Flea Beetle, Altica chalybea (Illiger) or possibly Altica woodsi. Apparently, Altica woodsi, feeds on the underside of leaves, which is just what your larvae are doing. This flea beetle is so common it is found throughout most of the United States. Adults are dark metallic greenish-blue jumping beetles about 4-5 mm (1/5 in) long. They feed on buds and unfolding leaves. The larvae are brownish and marked with black spots. Larvae feed on flower clusters and skeletonize leaves. The larvae of these beetles also will eat Virginia creeper, apples, ashes, birches, elms, pines, and oaks. No wonder is it so common since almost any landscape will have at least one of these plants. Damage is often restricted to vineyard borders, particularly near wooded areas. Clearing uncultivated woodlands near the grapevines and removing weed species between the rows are preventative/control methods that can be used for grape flea beetle. To date, no monitoring guidelines have been developed. Some biological and neonicotinoid insecticides will reduce high populations of flea beetles during the growing season.


Q: When do I prune my muscadine grapes?

A: Muscadines should be pruned between January and March in the Northeast Florida area. According to a publication by the University of Florida you should prune any branches that are less than 3/16 inch in diameter, leaving 2 to 3 buds per spur. Remove most of the spurs located at the top of the trunk to prevent crowding and bushiness, which will interfere with harvest. Prune any arms that are not vigorous. Application of fertilizer should occur in late March, May and just after harvest. Apply no more than 4 to 6 pounds of 6-6-6 or 8-8-8 per vine per year. Split applications are more efficient than a single application. Muscadines mature in August and early September and should be stored at cool temperatures until eaten or used for jellies or wine.


Q: I have muscadine grape vines and I would like to know when I should prune them.


A: This information comes directly from a University of Florida publication on muscadine grapes. “The shoots of muscadine grapes arise from buds in the leaf axils of past season's growth. The fruit of muscadine grapes is comprised of 6 to 12 berries per clusters on current year’s growth. Flowers appear after several weeks of shoot growth usually in late April. Muscadine grapes seldom sustain frost injury in the spring due to their late bloom date. Certain cultivars are susceptible to winter injury if a drastic decline in temperature occurs before the vine is acclimated to cold winter temperatures. Pruning in November or December can exacerbate the degree of winter injury. For this reason the best time to prune is mid-February to mid-March. Normally most vines, when acclimated can tolerate temperatures down to about 15°F without injury. After a grapevine has been trained to a desired configuration it must be pruned to keep it manageable and to ensure maximum vine performance. As indicated above, major pruning is normally done during the dormant season, although touch up pruning can be done during the growing season. You may notice that pruning cuts bleed when soil temperatures are high, but there is no evidence that this is injurious to the vine.”


Q: I bought one Concord grape and one muscadine grape vine. How do I care for them?

A: The biggest obstacle to growing the concord grape is the high potential for disease in our hot, humid environment. You can try them but realize if you are not successful it really is because the plant is not suited for this area. Muscadine grapes will do quite well here and you should be very pleased with the results. The article attached discusses the difference between bunch grapes and muscadine. There is an actual genetic difference between the two types of grapes. Bunch grapes have 38 chromosomes and produce fruit in the clusters (30 – 100). This form is the type of which we are most familiar. Bunch grapes are harvested in clusters. Muscadine grapes have 40 chromosomes which produce 2-10 berries but the grapes are picked individually. Some good muscadine grape varieties to use for wine, jams and jellies are Alachua, Carlos, Noble, and Welder. Muscadine grapes preferred for eating are Black Beauty, Fry, Black Fry, Granny Val, Farrer, Pam, Pineapple, Pollyanna, Southern Home, Summit, Supreme, Sweet Jenny and Tara.
Grape from the University of Florida pdf



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Bibliography

Jordi, Rebecca. "Garden Talk (Q&A), Muscadine Grapes". nassau.ifas.ufl.edu. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.

Published 29 Nov. 2014 LR. Last Updated 19 Aug. 2016 LR
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