Muscadine season is in full swing

Published 8:05 pm Saturday, September 12, 2015

Every year during muscadine season I think of my father. He and my mom would take us on fall picnics to Little Mountain, a beautiful state park near Starkville. Dad and I would roam the woods looking for wild muscadine grapes and nearly make ourselves sick eating so many of them! Finding them in the woods is always fun, but they aren’t hard to grow in your yard.

I consider muscadines in the category of medium maintenance. They don’t have a regular spray requirement but you do need a structure or trellis to support them. There is some pruning and training to get them started and then annual pruning afterwards to keep them in place and productive.

You can use and existing fence to plant muscadines or build a trellis much like an old fashioned clothes line with post and wire with supports and the end to help carry the weight of the vines once they start to mature.

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Space the vines about 20 feet apart to allow for growth and if you have more than one row leave about 12 feet between rows.

Black and bronze are the two basic fruit colors to choose from. Many people associate the name muscadine with the black- or purple-colored fruit and will call the bronze fruit scuppernongs. Actually Scuppernong is a variety of muscadine named in 1554.  It was the first named variety and was found along the Scuppernong River in North Carolina.

An important consideration when planting muscadines is that some varieties are self-fruitful and can pollinate themselves. There are also varieties that are self-unfruitful which have only female flowers and require a self-fruitful variety to be planted within 25 feet to ensure pollination.

Self-unfruitful varieties to consider that will require pollinators would include, Scuppernong, Fry, Black Fry, Higgins or Supreme.

Self-fruitful varieties that will grow well include Cowart, Ison and Carlos.

Muscadines are delicious for fresh eating but also make wonderful jelly, pies, juice or wine. They are a fun and fairly easy addition to any landscape. If you don’t want them in your yard – then take your kids on a fall picnic, roam the woods for the wild ones! Sometimes it’s the memories made that are the most wonderful of all.

Rebecca Bates is director of the Lincoln County Cooperative Extension Service. To contact her, call 601-835-3460.