Department of Agrictd
NATHAN M O-L missioer
STATE OF FLORIDA
Department of Agriculture
NATHAN N! 0-C om-nissioner
STATE OF FLORIDA
Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO Commissioner
DR. CHARLES DEMKO
BULLETIN NO. 63
Growing Grapes in Florida
T HE FIRST ATTEMPT TO GROW GRAPES IN FLORIDA was made over
300 years ago by the early Spanish, French, and English set-
tlers. Intending to develop a wine industry, these settlers had
brought with them from their respective lands many European
(Vitis vinifera) varieties. Plantings were made on the East Coast
and on some of the Keys. Unfortunately, however, the diseases and
insects which attacked these varieties soon discouraged this early
Some 70 years ago another attempt was made to grow grapes in
Florida. With Orlando as the center, the grape industry extended
to points within a radius of 50 miles; and over 500 acres were
planted with the northern fox grape (Vitis labrusca) and such varie-
ties as Concord, Niagara, and Ives.
These grapes all shallow rooted were planted on their own
roots. The hot, dry summer weather, the sandy soils which dried
out many inches below the root systems, and the fungus diseases
such as root-rot were all conducive to weakening and destroying
Further, after being harvested the grapes had to travel many days
to reach selling markets. Since transportation was inadequate and
slow, shipments usually arrived in poor condition. As a result, the
grape industry was once again reduced to a few scattered acres.
This second failure of the grape plantings led the United States
Department of Agriculture to make its first investigations on grow-
ing grapes in Florida. In 1899 the Department established an ex-
perimental vineyard on the estate of Baron Von Lutticheu, a prac-
tical grape grower at Earlton (near Gainesville). Here numerous
varieties of European, native bunch, and muscadine grapes were
Meanwhile, between 1860 and 1900, a number of prominent grape
breeders were at work. These men included Dr. Stephen W. Under-
hill of New York State; E. S. Rogers of Massachusetts; Herman
Jaeger and Jacob Rommell of Missouri; and Professor T. V. Munson
of Denison, Texas.
About 40 years ago many Munson hybrids, bred by Professor
Munson, were introduced and tried in Florida, and many of them
did very well.
Today, Florida grape growers are profiting from the early experi-
ments and the work of the pioneer breeders.
LOCATION OF THE VINEYARDS
The Central, Northern, and Northwestern areas of Florida are well
adapted to the culture of grapes. Central Florida is most suitable
for growing the early varieties of table grapes, and Northern and
Northwestern Florida, the later ripening grapes.
In all three areas there is a considerable amount of land that is
climatically suited to the culture of grapes.
To be suitable for growing grapes, soils must be well drained
and have good air drainage. Good high pine and high hammock
lands are excellent in this respect.
If and when the grape industry in Florida is able to supply grapes
for frozen grape concentrate, the later ripening varieties growing
in the Northern and Northwestern sections will help to extend the
marketing season for grapes suitable for juice and table use.
PREPARATION OF THE SOIL
The ground should be well prepared months ahead of planting time.
The soil should be thoroughly cleared of all stumps, large roots, etc.
If a cover crop has been growing on the ground to be used, it should
be plowed under from two to four months before planting time.
Should the soil be acid, it is advisable to apply 1,000 pounds of
dolomite limestone per acre before plowing under the cover crop.
The land should be leveled, and all grass destroyed with a disc har-
row and a spring tooth harrow up to the time of planting.
Planting time is any time from December 1 to March 1.
PLANTING THE VINEYARD
Since larger tractors and discs are being used today, it is wise to
space the vineyard rows sufficiently far apart to allow for the pas-
sage of cultivation, spraying, and harvesting equipment. The width
between the rows is usually about 11 feet.
Spacing between the plants within the rows should be from 8
to 10 feet. In most vineyards, the rows run north and south in order
that both sides of the vines may receive direct sunlight. If necessary,
however, the rows may run east and west.
To allow for cross driveways for spraying, fertilizing, and har-
vesting equipment, the rows should not exceed a length of 600
Care should be taken that the roots of the plants are kept moist
at all times. When the vines are received for planting, they should
One year old grape plant ready to plant in vineyard
be heeled in and covered with sacks to keep them from drying out.
Should they have become dry from shipping or from any other
cause, it is wise to soak them in water for some time prior to
planting. One method for keeping the roots moist is to place the
plants in a tub of water at the end of the row. The person doing
the planting then places about half a dozen plants in a wet burlap
sack and carries them in this manner.
It is most important that the plants be placed in straight rows.
Much damage can result when using tractors and other heavy equip-
ment on crooked rows.
To achieve a straight row, a cord is stretched the entire length
of the row-from endpost to endpost (see fig. 1-A). A stick 11
feet long will measure the width between the rows. By placing a
notch at either 8 or 10 feet on this same stick, it will also serve to
measure the exact distance between plants within the rows. A 4-
oi 5-foot notch should be allowed for the first and last plant in each
row (fig. 1-B).
This 11-foot measuring stick should be placed against the end-
post and along the cord which has been stretched the entire length
of the row. Using the 4-foot notch for the first plant, a short stick
is inserted about 6 inches into the soil. If the planting is going to
be 8 feet apart in the row, this stick represents the marker for the
first plant. The remaining markers should be placed at every 8
feet, and the last marker in the row should again be placed 4 feet
from the endpost.
To assist in keeping the plants in the center of the hole and there-
by maintain a straight row, a line about 12 inches long is drawn
in the soil on either side of the plant marker, using the cord as a
guide. Another 12-inch line is drawn at right angles to the first line,
forming a cross in the soil at each plant marker. This cross indicates
the center of the hole (see fig. 1-C). The next step is to dig the
When the hole is dug around the plant marker, care should be
taken that the two lines drawn at right angles to each other in the
soil are not covered up with the dirt dug out in making the hole.
Centering the grapevine with these two lines is the secret of a
straight row (see fig. 1-D).
The endposts should be 8-foot posts placed 3 feet in the ground
and securely braced to prevent the wires from sagging. The other
posts should be 7%-foot posts placed 2% feet in the ground.
If the 8-foot spacing is to be used, the endpost should be placed
4 feet from the first plant. Thereafter, the post will be spaced at
every third plant, or a distance of 24 feet.
If the Munson system of trellising is to be used, the first wire
will be placed 4 feet from the ground. The crossarms are made from
A CORD IS STRETCHED FROM END POST TO END POST
4------------- II FOOT STICK ---- -------
-- 4 FOOT NOTCH ---
-- 5 FOOT NOTCH------
8--8 FOOT NOTCH --------------------- I
--- 10 FOOT NOTCH -------------------------)
4 FEET n 8 FEET 8 FEET (1 8 FEET 4 FEET
LA^_^.L Li. cjJ. .*<*AAiL-J^^js tS^. ~w> ^^lu~i-^-..W ^_a* tL^-*^
i"x4"x24" lumber, and are nailed to the upper side of each post.
The two upper wires should be placed on these crossarms at least
18 inches apart-with two notches on the crossarms to hold the
wires in place. All trellis wires should be tightly stretched to pre-
vent them from sagging between the posts.
First year: Starting February 1, frequent, clean, shallow culti-
vation should be practiced. Rows should be kept clear of all weeds
and grasses by using a disc harrow which cultivates at a depth of
about 3 inches. Use of a grape or hand hoe will keep the young
vines in good growing condition.
Second Year: Frequent shallow cultivation should be kept up until
July 1. At this time the middles are allowed to grow to native
grasses. The 1-foot grape rows should, however, be kept clean
at all times.
After the fertilizer has been worked in with a disc harrow, shal-
low cultivation can more readily be accomplished through the use
of a rotary mower drawn by a tractor with power take-off.
About November 1, the cover crop or grasses should be cut in with
a disc harrow. Thereafter, no more cultivation is practiced until
February 1. Such a procedure helps the grapevine to become
dormant. Late cultivation tends to keep the vine sappy- a con-
dition not wanted at pruning time.
Each year thereafter the cultivation methods should be about the
same as those described above.
The subject of fertilization of grapes in Florida needs careful con-
sideration. Variation of soils in different parts of the state, difference
in fertility, and lack of humus in some of the soils account for the
different fertilizing practices.
The best practice is to start with some sort of cover crop. Some
years ago crotalaria and hairy-indigo were grown rather extensively
in vineyards. However, when the cover crops are disced or har-
rowed, strips about a foot in width which the disc cannot cultivate
are left growing and have to be hand hoed. This factor, in conjunc-
tion with the vigorous growing habits of crotalaria and hairy-indigo,
leads to quite a hoeing problem. If, for some reason, the use of
these particular types should seem desirable, it might be better to
grow them on another piece of land, mow, and then bring them
into the vineyard. A better practice, however, is to grow the native
grasses as cover crops.
(Photo Courtesy of University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Extension Service.)
Growing Grapes in Florida
t .4 %
When starting a new vineyard many growers put a handful of
steamed bone meal into the hole where the plant is to grow. This
material is sometimes unavailable at planting time, and often it is
more effective merely to apply additional water and soil to the plant
to help settle the soil around the roots and give extra moisture.
Today we are most fortunate in that there are numerous fertilizer
companies with the knowledge and equipment to mix the many
special fertilizer mixtures necessary for successful crops. The three
prinicpal plant foods are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. To
these are often added the secondary plant foods, such as magnesium,
manganese sulphate, zinc sulphate, iron sulphate, borax, iron chel-
ates, and others.
Young plants need more nitrogen than potash. They also need
more frequent and smaller applications of fertilizer than do the
older plants. The first year a young grapevine needs a total of two
pounds of fertilizer one-half pound for each of four applications.
A young plant grower-mixture generally runs a 5-4-8 mixture with
about 20 per cent organic nitrogen. As the vineyard comes into
the bearing stage, which is generally within eighteen months or
during the second year, the mixture is changed to a 6-6-6 or 5-4-5
In the second year the amount of fertilizer is doubled. It is ap-
plied about three times during the year, with a total of four pounds
of fertilizer for the season. The last application should be made
when the grape berries are half grown, and some of the secondary
plant foods should be added at this time.
These secondary foods and their amounts include magnesia as
Mgo, 5%; manganese sulphate as Mno, 1%; zinc sulphate as ZnO, .05%;
iron sulphate as Fe202, 1%; and borax as B202, .02%; iron chelate as
In the third year an additional pound of fertilizer should be
added, making a total of five pounds in two or three applications.
During the fourth year a total of six pounds in two or three appli-
cations of a 6-6-6 mixture, with 20 per cent organic nitrogen and
some secondary plant foods, should be used. This mixture should
be adequate for all future crops.
The acid condition prevalent in many Florida soils may be held
in check by the application, once every two years, of 1,000 pounds
per acre of dolomitic limestone.
Iron deficiency, commonly called iron chlorosis, is prevalent in
many types of trees, shrubs, vines, berries, and many field-grown
crops. The use of iron sulphate, iron chloride, or iron oxide does not
give the plants a sufficient amount of iron, and for some time this
deficiency has been one of the most difficult plant nutritional dis-
eases to correct. Stimulated by the spread of this disease in many
widely separated parts of the United States, scientific investigation
by state and college Experiment Stations, as well as by private
research, is now under way.
It is interesting to note that many of the so-called acid-loving
plants which are customarily grown in peat did just as well in alka-
line soil which had been properly ironized by applying iron chelates.
Iron chelates (pronounced key-lates) are water soluble.
DISEASE AND INSECT CONTROL
Spraying is absolutely essential to successful grape growing in
Florida. Fortunately, thorough spraying can control the Florida
grape attacking fungus diseases, most important of which are black
rot (Guignardia bidwellii), downy mildew (Plasmopara vitcola), an-
thracnose (Spaceloma ampelinum), bitter rot (Melanconium fulig-
ineum), and ripe rot (Glomerella cingulata).
By February 1 pruning should have been finished and dormant
spray applied. This spray can be made by dissolving 4 pounds of
bluestone (copper sulphate) in 4 gallons of water and adding this
mixture to 46 gallons of water.
The next spray should be a 4-4-50 Bordeaux spray, which con-
sists of 4 pounds of copper sulphate and 4 pounds of slack lime
(if dehydrated lime is used, the quantity should be doubled to 8
pounds) added to each 50 gallons of water. This spray should be
applied when the young shoots are from 3 to 6 inches in length.
The third spray, another 4-4-50 Bordeaux mixture, is applied when
the grapes are in full bloom and is very important for the control of
black rot. Varieties of grapes not resistant to black rot are sprayed
when in bloom. A period of 4 or 5 days should elapse if a second
spraying is to be made during this period.
The next spray should be another 4-4-50 Bordeaux mixture to
which has been added 1, pounds of dry lead arsenate to kill the
chewing insects. If the grapes are bothered by sucking insects, 34
pint of 40% nicotine sulphate should be added to each 50 gallons
of spray material. This mixture should be applied when the grapes
are half matured.
When the fruit starts to color, neutral copper acetate should be
used, dissolving 2 pounds in 2 gallons of water and adding to 48
gallons of water. This is a stainless spray, and care should be taken
that the spray tank has been well cleansed of all residue from the
previous Bordeaux mixtures. If this cleaning is not done, the ap-
pearance of the fruit will be marred.
Another application of neutral copper acetate should be used
about the time the grapes are ripening. Approximately 20 gallons of
spray solution per acre will be needed. This last spraying is very
important since it is used to check ripe and bitter rots when the
grapes are ripe. As there will be no time for the rains to wash
off a poisonous residue from the ripe grapes, no dry lead of arsenate
should be added to this last solution.
Another stainless spray, which can be substituted for neutral cop-
per acetate, is made by using 1P pounds of copper sulphate to 50
gallons of water. More of this spray should be applied to the fruit
than to the young cane growth.
A 20-20-60 copper lime dust can be used to good advantage on
young plants. About 22 pounds of dust will be needed per acre, and
with a good hand duster one man can dust one acre in an hour.
New fungicides and insecticides are numerous and carry complete
instructions as to their use. One of the newer fungicides, Ortho 50,
wettable (50% Captan), can be used for certain fungus diseases
such as black rot, downy mildew, anthracnose, bitter and ripe rots,
etc. One pound of 50% Captan should be used to each 50 gallons of
water. The advantages of this fungicide spray are that it does not
require the use of lime and it mixes with water more readily than
does the Bordeaux spray mixture.
Many growers who have only a few vines to spray use a 3-gallon
spray outfit. For this capacity, only 1 ounce of 50% Captan is
needed for 3 gallons of water, with 1a ounces of lead arsenate added
for any chewing insects.
For a 3-gallon solution of Bordeaux spray, 4 ounces of copper
sulphate (bluestone) and 8 ounces of lead arsenate (if chewing
insects are present) are added to 3 gallons of water. The bluestone
must be dissolved in a glass container. A small postal scale is useful
for weighing the materials in ounces.
When chewing insects such as the leaf-folder and leaf-skeletonizer
become troublesome after the fruit has started to ripen lead arsenate
should not be used as a poison. Pyrethrum and Derris extracts
should be used instead.
INJURIOUS INSECTS AND
The Grape Phylloxera (Phylloxera vitifoliae), Grape Berry-Moth
(Polychrosis viteana), Grape Leaf Skeletonizer (Harrisiana ameri-
cana), Grape Leaf-Folder (Desmia funeralis), Grape Leaf Hopper
(Typhlocybe comes), Grape Curculio (Craponius inaequalis), and
Brown Grape Aphis (Illinoia viticola) are all harmful to grapes. The
rootrot nematode (Heterodera marine) is found in Florida's sandy
Mushroom root rot, which is caused by a fungus, Clitocybe ta-
bescens, has been one of the general causes for the failure of so
many grape plantings in southern vineyards. Vitis labrusca and
many of its hybrids are highly susceptible to Mushroom root rot,
while the Florida wild Vitis grape and many of its hybrids are im-
The grape plant root system is subject to attack by many enemies,
including the variable climatic conditions in the South extremes
in heat and cold, as well as dry and wet seasons. It is becoming
constantly more apparent that many of the fruiting crops in the
South must be grafted or budded on acclimated, disease-resistant
rootstock, which tends to make weak vines vigorous and all vines
better acclimated and longer lived.
The Spanish tried to grow the Vinefera or European kinds on
their own roots and failed. The Labrusca varieties planted on their
own roots in central Florida also failed. Many different kinds of
Munson hybrids grown in the past forty years have also failed when
planted on their own rootstock. Beginning with Lief Ericson in
1000 A.D., all the explorers were astonished at the abundance of
wild grapes growing along the Eastern Coastal Area of the United
States. When they landed on the shores of Florida 400 years ago,
the Spaniards were also greatly impressed with the abundance of
Hence, after all these years, it should come as no surprise that the
wild grapes which grow so abundantly in Florida today should be
the key to a successful grape-growing industry in Florida as well as
in a number of the bordering states.
If the wild grapes, which have very little commercial value, are
used as pollen plants many wonderful combinations can be made
with the different Vinifera or European kinds and the many Vine-
fera and Labrusca hybrids. Quite a number of the French hybrids
are a combination of Vinifera and American wild varieties and, in
combination with the Florida wild varieties, have made some out-
standing new acclimated hybrids.
Many of the Munson hybrids in combination with Florida wild
species have made a long-lived and acclimated rootstock. Some of
the most promising combinations with Vitis simpsoni include Edna,
Mercidel, Munson, Carman, Fern Munson, Marguerite, Armlaga,
and R. W. Munson.
There are many advantages to be gained by the grower who grafts
all the plants in his vineyard to vigorous and resistant rootstock.
The rootstock should be planted in the vineyard in December or
January and let to grow until the following year, when it is
grafted to the wanted variety. Grafting of grapes is a simple opera-
tion, and should be done between January 15 and February 15 when
the sap of the plant is starting to rise. A cleft graft is the best
type to use at this time.
The graft wood, or scion, should be about 8 inches in length, and
should be covered with sand to form a mound about 20 inches in
diameter. The graft should be completely covered; otherwise, just
as the bud starts to grow it will be eaten by a katydid. It is im-
portant that the top bud should grow without injury. Should it be-
come damaged, the scion will put out growth from the lower bud
in the ground.
The most frequent reason for failure of any grafted plant is the
fact that the mound has been allowed to become too dry. If the
grafts have not received a soaking rain after a week or ten days,
about a quart of water should be applied to each mound, and the
sand which has been washed away from the scion should be care-
Before many weeks the terminal bud will start to grow and will
need to be trained to reach the 4%-foot wire. If the posts and wires
have been put up the plant can be trained on a piece of wire about
5 feet in length, which has been inserted about 6 inches into the
ground and fastened to the trellis wire. If the trellis has not been
built, the vine will have to be trained on some kind of stake driven
in next to the plant. If possible, it is best to put in a post and at
least one wire 42 feet from the ground. The training will require
18-month-old grape grafts
rubbing off the lateral shoots or growth until the graft reaches the
4%-foot wire. Great care, however, should be taken to leave 2 lat-
erals 1 on each side to serve as fruiting canes the following
season. The terminal bud is pinched off when the graft reaches the
A good, healthy graft will make several feet of cane growth on
each side, which from time to time will need to be tied to the 43-foot
wire. If the vines are healthy, very little spraying or dusting will
be needed during the first growing season. If the vines show signs
of disease or insects they should be sprayed as scheduled.
By the following January the graft which by this time should
have reached the 43-foot wire and formed 2 canes should be cut
back to 3 or 4 eyes on each cane. The reason for leaving so few
buds is to insure grapevine renewal and bearing canes being close
to the trunk of the vine.
If only the 4%2-foot wire has been put up, after the vines have been
pruned is the time to put up the second wire. This wire should be
stapled on the other side of the post, 6 inches higher than the first
wire and about 5 feet from the ground. It will be noted that this
type of trellis is somewhat different from the Munson 3-wire canopy
system of trellising. However, after many years of use, this staggered
2-wire system has been found to be much more economical.
Care of Mounds, Suckers, and Scion Roots. Often it will be
noted that the graft and its terminal bud are not making a vigorous
growth. If an examination is made at watering time and the sand
removed, it will be found that the rootstock is putting out a number
of suckers. These suckers should be carefully removed, but the
scion or graft should not be disturbed in any way; otherwise, the
process of callousing will be broken.
The grafted scion will also put out scion roots. Since these roots
help feed the scion until a perfect union has been made with the
rootstock, it is important that they not be disturbed until the graft
has reached the 4%-foot wire. After the graft has reached this wire,
half of the scion roots on one side of the graft should be cut off
with a sharp knife, and the mound should be lowered a little. A
week or ten days later the balance of the scion roots should be
removed, and the mound lowered until the union of the graft is
covered with only about 1 inch of sand or soil.
Many times a graft fails after it has been made, and a whole year is
then lost before the rootstock can again be grafted. By changing the
process from grafting to budding, a new budded grapevine can be
grown within a short time.
Budding is done in June or July. The T-bud, so frequently used
on other types of plants and on many trees such as citrus, is not
successful for use in grape budding because the cambium tissue
recedes and the T-bud dries out and dies. The budding operation
will be successful, however, if a succulent plate bud and an almost
succulent cane, still green in color, are used.
In plate budding, a smooth place about 1 inch above the soil
level is selected on the cane to be budded so that the scion bud
will not develop roots. Starting about 2 inches from the soil level,
a flat, narrow, downward cut, % to 1 inch in length, is made on the
cane so that the base of the cut will be about 1 inch from the soil
level. Part is then cut off, and about 3 inch is left at the base of
the narrow strip to help hold the plate bud in place.
The plate bud scion should be the same length and width as the
cut made on the cane. If the bud is too long, enough should be
cut off the top to match the cut at the top of the narrow strip. If
it is not wide enough, the bud should be placed at an angle so that
the cambium layers touch.
The plate bud is held firmly in place by strapping both ends with
a very thin strip of budding cloth. Strapping the plate bud scion and
holding it in place with the thin strips is very important. It should
be wrapped again with budding cloth, starting the wrap on the bot-
tom. When the bud is unwrapped after a 10-day interval, these
small strips help hold it in place and keep it from being pulled off
with the budding cloth. About 10 days after the unwrapping, the
narrow strips that are still holding the bud should be carefully re-
Before many days the bud will start to swell and grow. After it
has made a growth of a few feet, the cane should be cut off about 6
inches above the bud. To help force the growth of the plate bud, all
growth should be kept rubbed off the 6-inch cane. The plant should
then be trained on a wire or stake in the same manner as any other
young grape plant.
PRINCIPLES OF PRUNING
The first pruning should be done when the plants are dug out of
the nursery. About 3 eyes should be left, and the roots should be
cut back to a length of 5 or 6 inches.
A grape vine that has been planted during January will start to
grow about March and, from that time on, summer pruning should
be practiced. If growth is put out by all three buds, when about
2% inches long the best looking growth should be retained and the
rest broken off.
If the first trellis wire (No. 10-gauge smooth galvanized wire, 4%
feet from the ground) is up, the young plant can best be trained by
using another piece of wire about 5 feet long, put about 6 inches
into the ground, and fastened to the trellis wire; otherwise a stake
must be used.
The grapevine will put out lateral shoots which should be pinched
off until the vine reaches the 4%-foot wire. Care must be taken,
however, to leave the two laterals one on each side until after
the terminal bud has been pinched off.
Winter pruning can start December 1 and continue to February
1. The first winter 3 or 4 buds should be left on each lateral (a total
of 6 to 8 buds) on plants that have made a vigorous growth. Any
plant that has not reached the 4%-foot wire should be cut back to
the ground, leaving 3 buds. The next spring it should be retrained
to the 4%-foot wire, as with a newly planted vine.
As mentioned above in the discussion of trellising, a practical
change has been made in putting up the second wire. Elimination
of the cross arm and the additional wire of the Munson trellis sys-
tem saves time and money. Trellising is simplified by placing a No.
10-gauge wire on the other side of the post, 5 feet from the ground.
The post thus takes the place of the crossarm and, although not so
wide, seems under most conditions to do as well. Briefly, then, in
this alternate method the bottom No. 10-gauge wire is 4% feet from
the ground, the top wire is 5 feet from the ground, and the post
serves as the crossarm. All pruned plants should be tied to the
4%-foot wire with cord.
Second Winter. On all vigorous vines from 6 to 8 buds should
be left on each of the two laterals (a total of 12 to 14 buds). On the
plants which were cut to the ground, but which have now reached
the 4%-foot wire, 3 or 4 buds should be left on each of the two
laterals (a total of 6 to 8 buds). Any plants not making a vigorous
growth by the second year should be dug out and replaced with
Third Winter. By doubling the previous year's number of eyes
or buds, each lateral should now have from 12 to 14 eyes, making
a total of 24 to 28. When the canes carry this many buds, an added
spur of two buds should be left on each side at pruning time, as
close to the main stock as possible. These spurs serve as renewals
for the next season's fruiting canes and help to keep the bearing
wood close to the main stock.
Fourth Winter. By now the vine is producing many canes and
should have a total of 48 buds and from 2 to 4 spurs of two buds
each as close to the main stock as possible. Four canes are now left
to make a total of 48 buds. Care should be taken to use only the
stronger canes and to eliminate the weaker.
Fifth Winter. At this time a total of 60 eyes are left on 4 canes,
with 4 renewal spurs of 2 buds each as close to the main stock as
THE MUSCADINE GRAPE, grown in many of the southern states, is well
adapted to growth in Florida. The two southern species of Ameri-
can grapes Vitis rotundifolia and V. munsoniana belong to a
distinct botanical group which differs widely from the bunch type
grapes. V. rotundivolia was found growing wild when Sir Walter
Raleigh landed on Scuppernong Island. V. munsoniana, often called
Bird Grape or Everbearing Grape, grows wild in Florida and in the
Gulf region to which it is native.
Through cross-breeding selective new varieties of Vitis rotundi-
folia with V. munsoniana, a number of perfect-flowered hybrids
were developed, and breeders have since carried on the work to
produce hundreds of new perfect-flowered, self-fruitful hybrids
which will eliminate the use of male vines. The additional space
to be gained by the elimination of these unproductive vines will
greatly increase over-all production.
Vitis rotundifolio, generally known as the muscadine grape, has
Young seedlings of Thomas X. Munsoniana crosses
small clusters of fruit. Most of the fruiting varieties now being grown
are still of the self-sterile kind. Since the flowers are imperfect, they
must be pollinated by some male or perfect-flowered vines to assure
a set of fruit. The vineyard planting should be carefully planned to
be sure that pollen plants are positioned so that regardless of wind
direction an even distribution of pollen will be received by all im-
perfect-flowered plants and also that pollen may be carried by in-
sects from the male or perfect-flowered vines to the female flowers.
Since muscadines are vigorous growers, they need more room than
some of the other varieties and they should be planted from 16 to
20 feet apart in the row. The rows should be 11 feet apart.
Trellising methods for muscadines are also somewhat different
from those used for other varieties. The first strand of No. 10-gauge
smooth galvanized wire is fastened to the post 23 to 3 feet from
the ground; a second wire is fastened at a point 43 feet from the
ground; and a third wire is fastened on the other side of the
post, 5 feet from the ground.
Several systems may be used in training the new muscadine
plants. These include the 6-arm renewal system on a 3-wire trellis,
4-arm renewal system on a 2-wire trellis, overhead trellis and over-
head arbor, and a fan system on a 3-wire trellis.
In using the fan system, which seems to do very well in Florida,
the young vine is trained up to the 5-foot wire and the terminal bud
removed. Six arms, 3 on each side, are then trained in a fan starting
from the 3-foot wire, with all lateral buds removed below the 3-foot
level. These six arms serve as the permanent framework of the
plant. They are allowed to grow all season and usually make a vig-
orous growth. The six arms, or canes, are kept in check by cutting
back to 2-foot lengths the first year, and 4 feet the next, and to
8 feet the fourth year. From these arms the buds will put out lateral
growths. On muscadines the bud formation is very close, and the
pruning follows a cordon system whereby the laterals coming from
the arms, or canes, are cut back to 2 to 6 eyes.
Soils. Muscadine grapes can be grown on almost any soil in
Florida that is not too low or wet. Well-drained, fairly fertile soil,
with the aid of a fair amount of organic material supplied by com-
mercial fertilizer, should produce a good crop of grapes.
Transplanting vines. Roots should be kept damp at all times.
Any broken or injured roots should be cut off. If the vines are not
to be set out as soon as they are received from the nursery, they
should be heeled in immediately in some well-drained soil and
watered sufficiently to keep them from drying out until they are
planted in their permanent location.
Seed. When new varieties are desired, hybrid plants are grown
from seed. Seeds derived from cross-pollinizing Vitus Munsoniana
and some of the commercial muscadines will produce Florida accli-
mated muscadine rootstock. When one of the commercial musca-
dines is grafted on this hybrid rootstock, a more vigorous vine which
will produce more fruit is achieved.
Cuttings. The propagation of muscadine grapes from cuttings,
using the same method as for bunch grapes, has not proved satis-
factory. A newer method, however, of putting softwood cuttings
in a mist propagation bed has proved to be very successful.
Mist Method, Using Softwood Cuttings. Some of the excess
lower canes are left on the plant at pruning time. When the lateral
shoots put out by the buds are 6 to 8 inches long, the cane is divided
by cutting about 1 inch on each side of the lateral, making certain
that there are 1 or 2 dormant eyes on this divided cane. Leaving
2 inches of old wood, or heel, from which the lateral is growing
will help to form a better root system and a more vigorous plant.
Another method is to cut softwood tip cuttings from the growing
canes. These cuttings should be well formed and about 8 inches
long. In mist propagation, it is best to treat the cuttings with a
hormone before planting.
Layering. This is the method most commonly practiced by
grape growers and nursery men. At pruning time in the Spring
some of the canes which have developed on the lower part of the
plant are pegged down in trenches, but are not covered with soil
until the shoot growth starts from the various buds. As the shoot
growth starts, soil is filled in over the cane and around the shoot
base, leaving only the shoot tips exposed. Root growth is encour-
aged by making a slight cut at the bottom of the cane next to the
mother plant. The rooted layers are left undisturbed until the fol-
lowing spring, when they are taken up and divided. If vigorous,
they can be planted in the vineyard. If they are not vigorous, or if
they have poor root systems, it is best to put them in nursery rows
where they should be fertilized, well watered, and left to grow for
Grafting. As for bunch grapes, there are many advantages to
be gained by grafting muscadines. A hybrid rootstock, such as
Vitus munsoniana which has been cross-pollenized with some of
the commercial muscadines from Georgia or the Carolinas, will
produce plants that are vigorous and better acclimated as root-
stocks for Florida. When these muscadines are grafted on the hy-
brid rootstocks, a more vigorous vine that will bear more and earlier
ripening fruit is produced.
MUSCADINE MALE AND FEMALE FLOWERS
Upper 3 are Female Pistillate Flowers, lower 3 are Male Staminate Flowers
Muscadines are grafted in the same manner as bunch grapes.
Since the muscadine's sap begins to flow about a month later than
that of the bunch grape, the best time to graft is from February
15 to March 15. A 750 Fahrenheit temperature is necessary to cal-
lous and form a perfect union between the scion or graft and the
rootstock. Grafts will fail if made when the temperature is too
low, before the sap begins to rise, or if the mounds are allowed
to dry out. Since clay soil mounds are apt to become hard and dry,
better results may be obtained through the use of building sand.
Grapes have three kinds of flowers: (1) a pistillate (female) flower
with weak recurved stamens, unable to pollinize itself; (2) a
staminate (male) flower with an abundance of pollen, unable to
bear but able to pollinize and make other pistillate or female flowers
set fruit; (3) the perfect hermaphrodite flower with both a pistil and
an upright stamen, and with virile pollen that enables it to cross-
pollinize its own pistil and to set fruit. The pollen from the perfect
hermaphrodite flower will also pollinize any nearby pistillate or
Regarding "Nature's method of impregnation," Professor T. V.
"Nature's preferred method and the only one we can practically
apply is to place pollen grains upon the stigma, when in a
receptive condition, which is shortly after the flower has opened,
and the stigma has thrown out a minute quantity of protoplasm
upon its surface, appearing moist. In this liquid the pollen
grain germinates within 30 to 60 minutes, when the temperature
is 700 to 90, and the light and fair weather present. Naturally,
gentle winds and small winged insects, which visit the flowers,
carry pollen from flower to flower. The slender, thread-like root
of the pollen grain grows down one of the microscopic tubes
in the style and the pistil until it comes against the ovule cell-
wall, which it penetrates and then intermingles its substance -
protoplasm with the protoplasm of the ovule, by pairing or
grouping the chromosomes in new combinations. The pistil
holding such inpregnated ovule or ovules at once begins to
enlarge, and in time becomes a mature grape and the ovules
mature seeds within."
Since many varieties of the muscadine grape are not self-fertile,
plans whether for vineyard or backyard planting, must include some
perfect-flowered or male vines to serve as pollinizers (see fig.2).
As a rule, muscadine grapes can be grown without spraying for
insects and diseases. However, black rot fungus attacks the foliage,
and it is wise to apply at least one of two sprays of either 4-4-60
Bordeaux mixture or one of the newer fungicides at about the time
the vine is in bloom and again when the fruit is half grown about
July 1. Application of these sprays will keep more foliage on the
vines and help to set a larger crop of grapes.
One pound of 50% Captan should be used to 50 gallons of water.
This fungicide spray does not require the addition of lime, and
mixes with water more readily than does the Bordeaux mixture.
Growers who have only a few vines to spray and who use a 3-gallon
spray outfit will need only 1 ounce of 50% Captan to 3 gallons of
water, with the addition of 1% ounces of lead arsenate for chewing
For Bordeaux spray it will take 4 ounces of copper sulphate (blue-
stone), 8 ounces of dehydrated lime, and, if any chewing insects
are present, 12 ounces of lead arsenate to 3 gallons of water. The
bluestone should always be dissolved in a glass container. A small
postal scale may be used to weigh the materials in ounces.
Should chewing insects such as the leaf-folder or the skeletonizer
become troublesome after the fruit has started to color and ripen,
lead arsenate should not be used as a poison. Pyrethrum and Derris
extracts are suggested as substitutes.
There are a number of ways to harvest muscadine grapes. The
fastest and most economical method is to place a sheet on the
ground and shake the vine over it. The most serious drawbacks to
this method, however, are that the grapes are sometimes badly
damaged and many leaves and other foreign matter become mixed
with the berries. If the grapes are to be sold as fresh fruit, it is
better to shell by hand into cans, buckets, or baskets.
Many of the newer varieties of muscadines now being grown
from bunches which can be cut with shears. If the stem is soft
enough, the bunch can just be pinched off.
Muscadines are very popular in the South. In addition to being
excellent backyard varieties, they have fine commercial possibilities.
Because of their many uses, they sell well at roadside stands and in
stores, as well as at the vineyards. They are sold in quantities
ranging from one pound to a bushel basket.
BRONZE PISTILLATE (Female)
HIGGINS A new variety developed by the Georgia Experiment
Station at Experiment, Georgia, and introduced in October, 1955.
This grape is outstanding because of its size, color, flavor, yield, and
TOPSAIL This grape grows in small clusters and has large bronze
fruit, with a medium to thick skin, and of excellent quality. It is
resistant to disease, has vigorous vine growth, and ripens about
LUCIDA Vigorous vine, which is a good bearer with large to
very large, clear yellowish-green fruit. Ripens about August 20.
STUCKEY Reddish-bronze fruit is medium to large in size and is
juicy and very sweet. Leaves have poor resistance to disease. Ripens
about August 12.
YUGA Reddish-amber fruit is good quality, thin skinned, and of
medium size. Tenacious berries permit this grape to be picked
in clusters when fully ripe. Vine is vigorous and has good foliage.
Ripens about September 1.
SCUPPERNONG Excellent quality bronze fruit grows in medium-
size clusters. One of the best known of the muscadine varieties,
it ripens about August 4.
ORTON High-quality berries are light amber in color, medium
in size, and very sweet. This grape, which is very similar to Top-
sail, ripens about August 15.
OTHER BRONZE VARIETIES: Howard, November, New River, Mor-
rison Brownie, Dawn, Cape Fear, Pender, and Stanford.
BLACK PISTILLATE (Female)
DULCET- A reddish-purple grape of high quality, thin skinned
and very sweet. The berries form medium-sized bunches which, if
not picked, hang on the vine until they shrivel. The fruit remains
good over a long period. Healthy, vigorous and productive vine.
One of the best varieties for eating, this grape ripens about August
HUNT Large black fruit, with medium to thin skin and excellent
flavor, grows in bunches and is tenacious. The vine is vigorous, the
foliage healthy. A regular bearer and one of the best black varie-
ties, the fruit ripens about August 10.
THOMAS One of the old-time muscadines. Reddish-purple ber-
ries with very sweet, tender pulp and a pleasing flavor. The vine is
vigorous and healthy, and ripens about August 20.
CRESWELL Originated near Creswell, N.C., this grape is rated
one of the best at the North Carolina Experiment Station. The vine
is vigorous and productive. Sweet, good-flavored, medium to large
berries hang on to the vine for an extended period. Ripens about
CREEK One of the Georgia Experiment Station's most promising
introductions, this grape is a prolific and regular bearer. The fruit
is very juicy, with nice-sized clusters of medium-size, reddish purple
berries, thin skinned and fruity in flavor. Ripens about September 1.
SMITH A vigorous grower and a good grape for home use. Large
black berries with "guinea speck" markings have a tough skin and
a good flavor. This vine has healthy leaves and ripens about August
OTHER BLACK VARIETIES: Flowers, Latham, Mish, Scott's Imper-
ial, Spalding, Scott, James, San Monta, and Tiger Mountain.
Although there are a number of new perfect-flowered varieties
that as yet have not been released, the following varieties are now
available from nurseries:
TAR HEEL Jet-black, thin-skinned, and attractive. An unusually
good bearer, the vine is vigorous, disease resistant, and produces
sweet, good quality grapes. One of the best of the self-fertile
BURGAW- Another perfect-flowered, self-fertile variety. This
grape is a heavy bearer and has black fruit.
DUPLIN Pefect-flowered, self-fertile. The large black fruit has
watery juice and a thin skin. The berries hang on well and do not
shell. The vine is vigorous and productive.
WALLACE Perfect-flowered, self-fertile. Vigorous and produc-
tive vine. Light bronze fruit is medium in size, grows in small
clusters, and ripens late.
WILLARD Perfect-flowered, self-fertile. The vine is not vigorous
and has poor leaves. The fruit is light bronze and medium in size.