Muscadine Grapes

Muscadine Grapes

Grapes of the south, muscadines are used more today than ever. The culltivars have been improved, and today there are many varieties that are self fertile, unlike years ago. Muscadines grow like crazy down here, and in Florida we have a common, indigenous species, found in many distrubed areas, open fields, and twining their way up the trees. Although their fruits are small, they still make great jams, jellies, and wines.

Back to the fertile and not fertile. Properly, self fertile muscadines have what is called as perfect flowers. What this means is that the individual flower contains both male and female sexual organs, and is therefore self pollinating. Imperfect flowers are not, and you need another pollinater, or cultivar, in order to cross pollinate the muscadine, and end up with fruit. Be sure to check this out when going to purchasse your muscadines. Otherwise, you may have a lovely grapevine, but no grapes.

There are every color of muscadines nowadays. Green, golden bronze, and purple are commonly seen. The sugar content has also risen since growers have become interested in experimenting with muscadine, and what was once a sour or tart grape can in some cases, be eaten off the vine.

Muscadines also do well in our sandy Florida soils, and need little in the way of fertilizer after established. They can also withstand drought after the roots have become established.

Florida, Texas, and North Carolina come to mind when thinking of muscadines and their march forward. In North Carolina, there is even a festival in Duplin dedicated to the Muscadines. Many wineries have sprung up in this area, and many fine wines have been born amongst the growers there. I read a blog a few years back of a man in Texas who has erected an enormous arbor to support his cultivars. He has as much knowledge as any who do it professionally. His initial purpose was to be self sufficient, which I suspect he accomplished.

Florida muscadine growers are mostly in North and Central Florida, and take their grapes seriously. But they do well here in South Florida. More people down here should grow them for their naturalizing qualities, and the self sufficency they offer. In this economy, being able to grow more and more of your own food sources is not only an accomplishement, but a necessity.

I just planted my first muscadine cultivars out last fall, and they are just getting their feet established. They even bore a large amount of fruit for small vines this year, as I had no time to train nor cut them back. This fall, I will train them and prune as I should.

Notes: For more on training and care of grapes, here is a page I wrote on vitis Care and Grow Grapes. This is a long, extensive page full of information for the starting grower.
N.C. Muscadine Festival

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