Muscadines | Volunteer Gardener

Muscadines | Volunteer Gardener

there are a lot of fruits and vegetables that we think of as iconic in the south and perhaps where fruit is concerned none is more iconic than the muscadine we're a little far north in the Nashville area to be really successful but I want you to meet a gardener who has been very successful for the last ten years so David Sprouse has been growing muscadines up here in Whites Creek Tennessee and you've been pretty successful about it yeah but it's a struggle this you know muscadines and our climate here in Tennessee it's it can be a challenge but you found a few varieties that are particularly good here so tell me what those varieties are well there's two varieties of muscadines in terms of color there's obviously a purple and a white right as far as the purple grapes coke there's a variety called Cowart which I've had it seems to can survive our climate as far as white varieties Magnolia is a good one and Carlos is a very good one and you know there's a third one that's white called a fry and there's an early fry light fry one blooms earlier than the other one I'm not sure which one that I have but the fry even the books say that it doesn't do well in terms of cold weather right it has done well for me for you Mike source yeah yeah so so before we get into the real nuts and bolts of how to grow them is there do you have a preference over the the red or the white have you found something different in them that you really enjoy yeah probably my favorite tasting grape is the probably the oldest one is called the Scuppernong uh-huh it was found on the Scuppernong River in North Carolina by some of the early early settlers and its flavor is just outstanding and what people may not realize too is how big these grapes get you know some bigger than others but they can get as big as a quarter this particular variety is called a noble it's a purple grape and it is survived some of our cold winters I planted it a little bit later than than the others but it's known for its winemaking properties and the berries ripen more evenly right many muscadines they do not ripen evenly you have to pick the berries individually right which can be an enormous task so in this section of the garden you've got these are actual grapes not muscadines but right there American grapes from the LA Brusco family there's two types of American grapes the muscadine and the little riska these would be like your conquered your Niagara this happens to be a reliance grape it's a red grape red grape yeah so they're still green right now because they're young but they'll ripen later in the fall so tell me a little bit about your trellising system and the kind of the care and maintenance of both the grapes and you know the muscadines well the American grapes which would be like your Concord they they generally take a 2 wire system there's a specific name for that I don't remember at the moment but most of those use what you call cane pruning which you'll pick a healthy cane from your main trunk trunk there and you know each year you you get basically four cane sometimes more you can you know run a cane down to the lower wire and a lot of it's done to keep control as well I mean I hard prune these pretty you know pretty vigorously and you can see that they've done really well you know there's still space to walk between the rows and right you're trying to get these to come out you you prune back this way but but you leave the long canes yeah you don't want a long cane just hang it to the and grapes and muscadines and all of that you know these vines are very vigorous vines so pruning is one of the most important parts of this this holy forever gone a season without pruning everybody otherwise they would just be so overgrown you couldn't yes between the rows and you've got a good six or eight feet here between this row and the one next and and they would easily grow together in a season if they were like yes absolutely so this is a Southern muscadine our native Southern grape and this is a little bit different beast than you know than the regular grape just as far as size and all of that this is on a little bit different kind of trellising system yes single wire trellis from my research is probably the the best for a couple of reasons one reason it's easy to maintain and the other reason if you have equipment like I do you know with lawn mowers between the rows it's easier to maintain in that way that probably the ultimate trellis for a muscadine is what they call a geneva trellis which is a double wire up here and it sits up a little higher I think the double wires maybe four four feet apart and you sort of get sort of like a single wire twice I'm going to describe it that way yeah almost like a clothesline effect yeah clothesline effect would be a good way to say that I did have a wire underneath in the beginning but I tried to do you know what happens is the top shades out the bottom you can see it's so vigorous that you can do that in the beginning and you may maximize the fruit but as the plant ages the wire underneath just doesn't you know right so if we look up under the foliage I mean I'm lifting up three or four feet of vine here is this all one seasons grass I prune this what they call spur pruning which what you really do you can see some buds right here one two three prune it back to approximately three buds each cane and believe it or not the muscadine is that aggressive right sometimes you get lazy after you prune a bunch of them and you'll go through with your shears and get you know the bulk of it and then you'll go about with smaller pruners but you can see there's you know I have a few little extra but generally you want to keep this to one runner going down right but you know as the vine ages it's a little more of a challenge to keep it sure one runner sir so what time of year will these rifle well believe it or not muscadines his other grapes um ripen early some ripen midseason I would say generally muscadines are more of a fall fall gray yes out of the way I have on them you know even ripen at Frost right and some of them a little earlier probably late August is when you start to see them and then set them early October exactly and there are actually two types of muscadines I mean I'm from the Carolinas you know some people say whether Scuppernong says some people say whether muscadines with a scuff along actually refers to the white it was the earliest white barrage is an actual for eyes to actual variety but many of the white varieties in general are referred to as scuppernongs and you know the purple ones is muscadines but they're all muscadines sir so this is a brand new yeah just planted this spring just planted this spring and you know again here that just to show how much they grow a brand new little cane and then you've already got a good twelve or fourteen inches of new growth just off of this and even even longer up here and what you want to do with a muscadine you I know this sounds vicious but you want to get rid of all these little shoots you know if you're diligent but not too much right now you want to leave some leaves but you know in the winter usually I prune you know right before spring you're really clean that trunk up right you know and get all of your growth up here to your wire so that you have a good strong trunk and train one up to here the V here is called the crux you generally want to try to keep it clear so it good ventilation and air suck and get those arms showing anything yeah honey either way so there's quite a difference then between a newly planted plant and even just one year exactly and we can look at a one planet last so one year's worth of growth actually already has fruit on it yes and has grown ten to twelve feet possibly possibly yeah much as that and then eventually will actually take up a whole 20 foot stretch it doesn't take it you know within three years you can have it trained 2040 yes easy whereas the American grapes that we looked at a bit ago were planted on eight foot centers yellow or ten foot centers maybe these actually take up ten feet in each direction yeah 20 feet is the ideal spacing for mastodons I have one more question for you sources my wife when we first moved here she gave me a little pamphlet and it was from I sons and there shree in Georgia she just knew I loved muscadines we both grew and grew up in the south and they happen to be the biggest breeder of muscadines in the u.s. okay so that's and they do mail-order so yeah mail-order you can go online and buy from them but you and and they're wonderful people in terms of giving you advice they've even asked me what you know varieties of grout you write you've done with them so I would highly recommend I sunned is a reference for muscadines so whether you choose a table grape or our iconic muscadine you can grow grapes very successfully in tennessee for inspiring garden tours growing tips and garden projects visit our website at volunteer gardener org or on youtube at the volunteer gardener channel and like us on facebook

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