978 County Farm Rd. NE
Dalton, Ga. 30721
We specialize in the propagation of Muscadine Vines, FIG Trees, andMore LIVE PLANT LICENSE # 11261
Fall Vineyard Maintenance
Posted OCTOBER, 16TH 2019
Any fruit left hanging on the vine that was not harvested should be removed. If left on the vine the fruit will rot or mummify (become raisin like) on the vine. This rotting fruit can lead to a buildup of disease over the winter and will be present in the spring. If you do not remove the fruit you will have much more disease pressure such as ripe rot macrophoma rot that can affect next years harvest.
Many vines will also have what are called "shot berries",these are grapes that get about as big as a dime and are green and will not ripen on the vine. They are the product of the vine either trying to set a second crop or late blooms being pollinated but do not have enough time allowed for the ripening of the fruit. Any green or shot berries should also be removed this time of year.
Do not prune too early. For years we pruned our vines beginning after the Thanksgiving Holiday. But through trial, error and experience we have found the best time to prune muscadine vines is from mid January to mid March. We have found that a vine that has not been pruned can handle colder temperatures or big swing in temperatures better than a vine that has been pruned. In general we experience our coldest temperatures from late December January, by pruning later we are giving our plants a better chance of coming through the winter with little or no cold weather damage.
If you are used Blue-X plant shelters this year and your vines have reached the top wire, now is the ideal time to remove the shelters. On a planting report we have a beautiful crop of muscadine vines this year, so if you are thinking about adding a few vines or considering planting some acreage now is a good time to begin getting your orders in. I hope these tips will ensure that you have an abundant crop next season.
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How to Protect Muscadine Vines From Frost
With its need for warm, humid growing conditions and limited cold hardiness, commercial production of muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundifolia Michx) is mostly limited to the Southeast. However, in other parts of the country where winter temperatures rarely drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, home gardeners can grow some cultivars of muscadines successfully if they take extra care to protect them from frost.
If you’re planting your own muscadine vines instead of inheriting preexisting vines, pick a cultivar that is more fitting for your growing region. Although some varieties are recommended only to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 7, others can be grown to USDA zone 9, including “Nesbit” muscadine, “Fry Scuppernong” and “Cowart” muscadine. Also, make the most of any hills or south-facing walls when planting your vines. Frost occurs when sunny, cloudless days turn to clear, cold nights, and the lack of cloud cover prevents warm air from being trapped on the ground. Since any hot air that exists will rise, avoid planting in the bottom of hills, gullies or other low spots where cold air can get trapped.
Clean Up and Trellis
Firm, moist, bare soil provides greater temperature benefits to grapes, according to viticulture specialists at the University of California, who report that the soil under vines with a low-growing cover crop can be 1 to 3 degrees colder. Keeping the ground around your muscadine vines free of debris and plant growth maximizes heat absorption. Remove or mow native vegetation and cover crops before bud break occurs on the grapevine. Also, trellis the vines to keep them off the ground. The closer you get to the ground, the colder the air, so the taller the trellis the better.
Grape production can be greatly reduced or wiped out when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit after new growth appears on buds in the spring. To limit frost damage, delay pruning your vines until after the buds swell. This occurs when daily temperatures climb above 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for a week or more. Because the buds on the tips of canes swell first and the ones closer to the trunk develop last, if frost does occur chances are that only those you’re going to prune anyway will be damaged.
While you can always cover your grape vines with blankets or tarps if frost is predicted, this isn’t always feasible with larger backyard vineyards, just as the use of wind machines and heating units, which are utilized in commercial grape production, isn’t practical for most gardeners. Instead, coat your muscadine vines with a layer of ice if frost is predicted after new growth has appeared. As the water freezes, it releases heat and raises the temperature of the plant tissue, which protects it from frost damage. Set up your sprinklers the night before temperatures are supposed to drop below 32 degrees F. Run them all night so that they evenly soak all vines, then wait for the morning sun to slowly melt the ice.