Friday, January 26, 2018

Advice needed on saving a wild muscadine

I took down a tree last Fall that had a large wild muscadine vine growing into it. I was going to clear it too but my wife convinced me to see if we could save it. It took a bit of work but I basically removed branch by branch of the fallen tree, until all that was left was the muscadine. I am wondering if you can give any advice on pruning and training it? 

I'm prepared to build a trellis for it; the usual setup of 9 gauge wire between posts 20' apart. And it should get plenty of sun where it is. But since the vine grew up wild, it isn't in the usual training pattern. The trunk goes about 15 feet before it does anything, and then it branches and splits several times, and the growth is just everywhere. In all it's about 45 feet long. Do you have any advice, especially on how aggressive I should be in removing growth? Thanks! 

It would be difficult to advise about exactly how to prune it. That would require a "hands-on" session. It would indeed be difficult to train it to a trellis of any sort without radical pruning.
Since the trunk is bare to 15 feet or so, you might consider a high overhead trellis. Take a look at the image below:

NZ overhead grape trellis

I found this image on TripAdvisor. It's a vineyard in NZ. You can see how wire is strung from post to post, the arms stretched across and the vines closely pruned. Something like this could work if you care to go to the trouble and expense.

I visited a similar system at a fruit experiment station near Shepherdstown, WV about 30 years ago. It was made for apples. Telephone poles supported an overhead wire grid upon which the scaffold limbs were trained in a flat umbrella fashion. The trees were pruned annually by a person who would walk across the top of the grid wearing footwear resembling snowshoes brandishing either a swing-blade or a "string trimmer" outfitted with a circular saw blade. (I tried to find a picture of the Shepherdstown system online, but no luck. Unfortunately, I have no pictures existing from my visit.)

A less interesting but more practical solution might be to cut the plant to the ground during dormancy. It's likely the stump would sprout and you could train one of the young shoots to a convention single-wire trellis.

I hope this helps.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

At what point do muscadine vines begin to taper off in production?

Our family has a set of muscadine vines that are about 35 years old. They are prolific when pruned yearly. How long should I expect these vines to produce before we cut them down and replant? I saw your video where you pruned 50-year old vines. At what point do vines begin to taper off in production?

There's no particular age at which point vines begin to taper off. As long as they're maintained well, they can live to ripe old ages. The oldest scuppernong, known as the "Mother Vine" growing at Manteo, NC, was estimated to have been over 400 years old. I think it died fairly recently.

Sometimes even with annual pruning, the vines can become overgrown, so need to be renovated, cut back real hard to remove some or most of the old "spurs that" that have grown to look like antlers. You'll lose some production in doing so. I'm in the process of doing some of that now. Some are going strong. I'm removing a few unproductive vines. It's possible that some unproductive vines cut down to the ground will re-sprout from the trunk and give you a fresh, new, productive vine from the old roots.

The vines can certainly outlast the trellises they grow upon.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

What is the difference between a Muscadine and Scuppernong vine?

What is the difference between a Muscadine and Scuppernong vine?  ...Would you suggest I do my major pruning now?
Scuppernong is one bronze/white variety of muscadine grape. It was discovered as early as the 1500s by explorers. Eventually, it was rediscovered in the 1750s growing near the Scuppernong River in N.C. Consequently, bronze/white varieties became known as scuppernongs and black or purple varieties known as muscadines, but that is incorrect. There are many varieties of bronze muscadines. All scuppernongs are muscadines, but not all muscadines are scuppernongs.

You can do your major pruning now. Try to be done by the time new foliage begins to emerge. 
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Monday, September 21, 2015

Questions about fertilizing and pruning muscadines

Q. My parents live in Avon Park, FL. They told me that the muscadines didn't make this year and I was doing some research and came across your Youtube videos. Any idea why they didn't make?

A. There could be several reasons for not bearing this year, including late frost, lack of pollination - perhaps a nearby pollinator died, failure to prune for several years, lack of pollinating vectors.

Q. Do my parents need to fertilize the muscadine plants? (10-10-10 fertilizer 6 inches from plant and around the plant) With what and what time of year to add fertilizer.

A. If the plants are not putting on much new growth, they might need some 10-10-10. A soil test might indicate the need.

If the plants have any age on them at all, putting fertilizer 6 inches away from the plant will do little good. The roots are shallow and run a long way. It would be best to broadcast the fertilizer around the plants as much as 3 feet or more. Casting the fertilizer with a gloved hand or a lawn fertilizer spreader will work. Fertilize early spring.

A soil test might indicate the need for magnesium sulfate - Epsom salt. You can broadcast some even without taking a soil test. Epsom salt is like chicken soup for some ailing plants. It might help; it can't hurt.

Q. Pruning what time of year?

A. Prune during dormancy with leaves off the plants so you can see what you're doing. That would be from early December to early March. Actually, you can prune other times of year, too. The problem would be knocking off young flowers and fruit. Muscadines will not "bleed to death."

Q. Who can we call to have someone check out the soil pH and check for diseases of the plants?

A. You can do collect a soil sample yourself. Drop by your closest Cooperative Extension Service office. Request a soil sample bag. Add soil to the bag per instructions usually printed on the bag. Return the sample to the Extension office. You will be charged a nominal fee. The office in Highlands County, FL is at 4509 George Blvd., Sebring, FL 33875. A horticulturist with the Extension Service might be persuaded to take a look at the plants to look for diseases. In most cases, muscadine diseases - mostly fungal - aren't worth worrying about.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Large black worms attacking in large numbers...

1st instar larvae on Vitis rotundifolia

Help again? I was checking the vines this morning and there are small black worms attacking in large numbers the leaves of the scuppernongs and muscadines.  I would assume this is some sort of moth or butterfly larvae, but cannot find suitable information on the internet.  Any ideas would help.  I hate to attempt to get rid of them with the wrong pesticides if I have to use them at all.

They might be Hyalophora cecropia , 1st instar phase. I can't tell if the ones in your photo are as "hairy" as the ones in the links below.

The reason they don't show the coloration and size that you might see in photos of the big, green caterpillars is due to their immature phase.

I don't think you need to bother getting rid of them. More grape leaves will appear. They won't denude your vines. There are probably enough predators to keep them in check. Some type of BT dust might benefit.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

My seedless grapes are loaded with seeds and are very tart!

I planted a 30' row of various seedless grapes like Thompson and several other seedless varieties (I can't remember the names right now) that I purchased a my local Sam's Club. The seedless? grapes are all loaded with seeds and are very tart even after four years of growth.

First, you should know that even "seedless" grapes produce vestigial seeds. The size of the vestigial seeds can be influenced by climate. Second, climate can affect taste. It's possible that your climate simply isn't conducive to growing good quality seedless grapes.

If the grape varieties are not the color that they were supposed to be according to variety, it's possible that you didn't get the varieties you thought bought. The plants could have been mislabeled.

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