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Prune muscadine vines now

Muscadines are native to Mississippi and grow wild throughout the state. The first recorded muscadine vine was found by Sir Walter Raleigh’s colony. They found the original Scuppernong muscadine in 1554 on the Scuppernong River in North Carolina. The muscadine is a popular crop across the South because of its natural adaptability, resistance to diseases and insects and long vine life.

Winter is a good time to prune vines to stimulate growth and productivity. Muscadine and other grape vines bloom and produce fruit on current year’s growth. Vines are pruned to develop old wood for support, and new growth for production.

Most vines are trained to have two or four support branches called ‘cordons’. Cordons run along the wires, fences or other support structures. Cordons should be no longer than ten feet and most vineyards space vines twenty feet apart along the support structure.

The side branches from the cordons are called ‘spurs’. Spurs should be at least 6 inches apart down the cordon. Each year the wood from the previous year is pruned to about four buds to be the fruiting spur for the coming year. After several years, the spurs become too tangled and the cluster of spurs is removed. At that time, a new spur from the cordon is established.

Healthy muscadine plants produce a lot of growth each season. If you don’t prune annually, production is reduced, and in some cases, plants do not produce at all.

These vines make a great addition to any landscape. Given proper support and a good annual pruning, you will enjoy the fruit of this native, long-lived vine for many years.

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