Alternative Opportunities For Small Farms: Muscadine Grape Production Review ( Publisher's URL )

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Alternative Opportunities For Small Farms: Muscadine Grape Production Review
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Fact sheet
Halbrooks, Mary C.
University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, EDIS
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Gainesville, Fla.
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Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Melanie Mercer.
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"First Published Date revised: August 1997.
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1.This document is Fact Sheet RF-AC016, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences, Universit y of Florida. First PublishedDate revised: Au g ust 1997. Please visit the FAIRS Website at The Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without re g ard to race, color, sex, a g e, handicap, or national ori g in. For information on obtainin g other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences / University of Florida / Christine Taylor Waddill, Dean 2.Mar y C. Halbrooks, former extension horticulturist, Viticulture; Timoth y E. Crocker, professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences, Universit y of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.Fact Sheet RF-AC016Alternative Opportunities for Small Farms: Muscadine Grape Production Review1 Mar y C. Halbrooks, Updated b y Timoth y E. Crocker2The muscadine grape is native to Florida. This Muscadine wine production has expanded in the last vigorous vine bears fruit as individual berries, rather thanten years. Traditionally, muscadine ("scuppernong") bunches, which are thick-skinned and seeded. Muscadinewines were sipping or dessert wines due to the naturally cultivars are distinguished as being either bronze or blackhigh sugar and intense fruitiness of the grape. New fruited. The vine can be damaged by cold. Temperaturesenological techniques, however, have been developed to of 10 F will cause injury on fully dormant vines. produce a variety of table and sparkling wines. Successful Currently, commercial production of muscadines isto the consumer's interest in a unique, regional product. divided between fresh fruit sales and wine. Fresh fruit is marketed through pick-your-own operations and local retail grocers. Acreage for wine grapes is contracted to or owned by wineries. The market for single-strength muscadine juice has been tested and found positive but remains untapped in Florida. Muscadines grow well throughout Florida. Vineyards should be located on soils which are well-drained or raised beds constructed in poorly drained areas. Productivity is enhanced on sloped areas with good air drainage.Marketin g SituationPick-your-own operations have been very successful outlets for fresh fruit. The high cost of picking labor is avoided and local popularity of muscadines remains strong. These markets are quickly saturated, however, and little acreage is needed in an individual operation to fill demand. Retail grocers have begun selling packaged pints of berries. Sales of fresh fruit are strongest in north, west and southeast Florida. marketing of these new wines has been based on an appealLabor and CapitalMuscadines ripen unevenly as individual berries during August and September. The extended picking season is ideal for the pick-your-own market but can create serious problems for once over harvest situations. The vines can be harvested mechanically with a catch frame or over-the-row type harvester. Once picked the fruit must be refrigerated as soon as possible. Removal of field heat by refrigerated trucks should be followed by storage at 40 F.Suitabilit y Muscadine grapevines are well adapted to the high disease pressure of the Florida environment. Although its natural resistance to fungal diseases and damaging insects is greater than that of bunch grapes, some control measures must be taken for successful commercial production.


Alternative Opportunities for Small Farms: Muscadine Grape Production Review Pa g e 2June 1998The extent of injury due to freezing temperatures sustained by vines will vary with location and cultivar. The primary factor in determining degree of injury, however, is the condition of the vine prior to the cold period. Since fully dormant vines can be injured by temperatures of 10 F, any vine which is less than fully dormant is susceptible to damage at higher temperatures. Muscadines grow best on well to moderately drained fine sands and upland soils with underlying clay at about 3 feet and pH of 5.8 to 6.2. Soils not suitable for viticulture are excessively drained deep white sandy soils, (e.g., St. Lucie Lakewood Pomello and Palm Beach Cocoa soil associations) or the poorly drained sandy or organic soils such as marl, peat and muck. Soils previously under cultivation should be tested for residual herbicide or an over-limed condition which would be damaging to grapevines.Plantin g SituationFactors to be considered when selecting a cultivar forborer. Of these, grape root borer may be the most serious commercial production are: (1) resistance to Pierce'sthreat to grapes in Florida. The larval stage hatches on the disease (PD), a bacterial disease spread by leafhoppersoil surface and tunnels into the root system feeding as it insects (2) suitability for the target market, (3) flower typetravels. A single larvae feeding on a major root can kill a and (4) stem-scar type. Certain cultivars are very popularvine. Currently the only control measure available is a with pick-your-own customers including Fry, Dixieland,single application of pesticide made in the fall as a barrier Dixiered, Triumph and Jumbo. Fry is more susceptible tospray. cold injury, however, and is not recommended for north Florida. Two releases which are high quality are Summit,Effective application of the pesticide depends on a a bronze-fruited muscadine of comparable size and qualityweed-free strip under the row. Weeds also compete for as Fry, and Nesbitt, a black-fruited muscadine withwater and fertilizer and make disease control within the excellent flavor. Cultivars recommended for wine arecanopy more difficult. The herbicide schedule includes Noble, Carlos and Welder.preemergent control and repeated applications throughout Cultivars having perfect flowers are self-fertile and are generally higher yielding than female flower types. If a female flower type is selected, pollenizer vines must be planted at every third place in the row or within approximately 25 feet of the female vines. Dry-stem scar types will shatter which aids in the process of mechanical harvesting. Wet-stem scar types will require more physical force to harvest mechanically and once harvested will require rapid processing due to susceptibility of the open berry to rot organisms. Muscadine vines are spaced every 16 feet in rows 12 feet apart for an average of 227 vines per acre. The vines must be trellised along the full length of the row. Nursery supply is very good at this time. Vines are best transplanted "bareroot" in late winter, early spring. Muscadines grow vigorously on their own rootstocks thus eliminating the task of grafting common to bunch grapes.Cultural Pro g ramGrapevines require intensive care, especially during the first 2 years after planting. Each vine must be staked and trained up to the trellis wire then pinched out at the top and trained along the wires. Each winter the vines must be pruned and retied to the wires. Irrigation is mandatory for establishment of the vines and will greatly enhance yields of older vines. Due to the strong disease pressure of the Florida environment, grapevines require a specialized type of sprayer which directs the fungicide solution upward and into the vine canopy. Control of the major fungal diseases (anthracnose, bitter rot, black rot and ripe rot) requires up to 8 sprays per season. On clayey soils of the panhandle, 830 lbs. of 12-12-12 fertilizer per acre per season is optimum. Insects which are the most persistent and damaging include grape flea beetle, grape leafhopper and grape root the growing season for optimum yields.