Start Thinking about Muscadines: A Native Northwest Florida Fruit

Prolific producing muscadine cultivar 'Granny Val' - Image Credit Dr. Peter C. Andersen

Prolific producing muscadine cultivar ‘Granny Val’ – Image Credit Dr. Peter C. Andersen

Mother always said “never be late” but in the case of certain muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia) cultivars, it’s good to be late.

Although muscadine harvest can begin as early as July, gardeners with late bearing muscadines are still reaping the benefits of fruit harvest and may until early October.

Northwest Florida gardeners often grow muscadines as a substitute for traditional grape (Vitis vinifera) cultivars such as ‘Concord’ or ‘Thompson’s Seedless’, since they are prone to Pierce’s Disease. In fact, muscadines are native to the southwest USA and resistant to a variety of insect and disease pests, so much so that they can be grown in the home garden without the use of insecticides or pesticides.

An additional advantage of gardening with muscadines is that they can easily be asexually propagated. To mimic the natural asexual propagation of wild muscadines, home gardeners may use the pegging method. Pegging entails wounding the branch in several locations, then burying the wounded section of the branch in moist soil while leaving the shoot tip exposed. If this is done in the late spring or summer, roots should form from the main branch in about a month. After roots are confirmed, the connection with the mother plant can be cut.

Planting time for muscadines depends on the type of plant purchased. If gardeners want to plant bare root vines, they should plant them between December and January, but containerized plants can be planted any time.

Before muscadines are planted, soil tests should be performed to determine pH. Muscadines can be grown in the pH range of 5.5 to 7.0, with the optimal level between 6.0-6.5. Since many soils in northwest Florida are highly acidic, tests should be done at least 3 months before planting. This will allow the addition of an optimal lime source Dolomite, which takes 3 months to raise the pH but also adds magnesium to the soil.

If this article prompts the reader to plant muscadines, refer to HS # 753 “The Muscadine Grape” for information about establishment, irrigation and fertilization.

Here is a list of recommended late bearing cultivars to look for when selecting plants.

  • Big Red
  • Delight
  • Doreen
  • Farrer
  • Granny Val
  • Late Fry
  • Nesbitt
  • Polyanna
  • Supreme
  • Pineapple

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments on “Start Thinking about Muscadines: A Native Northwest Florida Fruit

  1. Matthew:
    Nice article. Any suggestions for pruning information after the harvest? I juiced about 60 pounds of native and new variety muscadines this summer and produced about 6 gallons of delicious juice and lots of pulp for my redworms in the vermiculture area of my compost for the farm. Do you know Byron Biddle in Vernon? He was a classmate of mine in Chipley for a time many many years ago. Visit my website http://www.clearcreekfarm.net for some pictures of my arbor.
    Thanks,
    Ray Davis

  2. Pruning late can cause winter injury, since it signals the vine to begin growth. Wait until late January to mid February to prune and you will see better results. Yes, I have been out to Byron’s place several times.
    Thanks,
    Matt

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