The grape of the south, the Muscadine
The grape of the south is the muscadine. It is one of the few grape varieties that perform well in the hot climate of the southeastern United States. The native variety of muscadine is called ‘Scuppernong’. Here in Florida it grows well in our poor soil conditions. It also benefits from being tolerant of our many insect pests and diseases.
If you are thinking of growing grapes in your yard, you must first find a muscadine cultivar recommended for this part of Florida. To find some recommended varieties see table 4 of the UF/IFAS Extension EDIS fact sheet for muscadine grapes at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/HS100 . The planting site should have plenty of sun, good soil drainage, and good airflow. Commercial vineyards are often found on sloping hillsides for these reasons. Plants should be set in rows about 10 feet apart with each row also 10 feet apart. The planting hole should accommodate the entire root system, usually 2 feet deep and 2 feet wide. A trellis system is needed for grapes and a wide variety of plans are available or you can create your own.
The vertical shoot of the plant should be supported and trained to reach a cross wire that is about 5 to 6 feet above the ground. Pruning is important in order to train the vine along the trellis and provide optimal grape production. Regular fertilization is required with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Rainfall usually will not always provide adequate irrigation as muscadines require a great deal of water for growth. Watering may be needed as often as every other day.
Have fun in your little vineyard, You will find success if you devote time and care to your grapevines.
Written by Steven Fiero, UF/IFAS Extension Clay County Master Gardener Volunteer