I came up with an idea that might interest some of you. I plan to list some of the trade secrets that I have come across and keep increasing this list as more ideas pop up.
Using Solo Cups
Over the last few years small growers, like myself, have started using 16 oz. Semi-clear solo cups to grow out their small plants. They have several advantages. They are cheap, great size for small plants, with the semi-clear container you can see the development of the root system with out pulling the plants out of the container. One disadvantage is that they deteriorate for the sun’s ultra violet rays after a season or so, but their cost makes up for it.
Here is a link, check it out.
Using a different Propagation Media
Each year I try to improve my success percentages in propagating my Muscadines. The biggest change is in the composition of the propagation media. A large number of propagators use raised beds filled with coarse sand into which they stick their cuttings. It has great drainage, weighs a ton, and the raised beds have to be worked on your knees. My body is too old to constantly be on my knees, once down I can’t get up. So I start my cuttings in 1.25 qt. Containers in a flat of 8 containers with the use of a work table. If I were to use straight sand the flat weighs 38 pounds dry. So I mix 50/50 sand and perlite making the flat weigh less than 20 pounds. I still have to kneel down, but not as often since I am using flats.
Adjusting your mist system for better results
Most plant propagators know that in the early stage of plant propagation the cutting have to stay moist or they soon die. They also know that once the cuttings start develop a few roots they need less water or the rot. So I have developed a duel mist system in my new 10x36’ mist house. One side uses intermittent mist, misting 4 sec. every 10 min. The other side mists for 3 min. twice a day. So after 4 weeks I move the cuttings from one side to the other.
WHAT IS A MUSCADINE STARTER VINE?
A Muscadine starter vine is a rooted cutting taken between the middle of June and the first of September which makes them less than a year old. The cuttings are all between 6-10". They all have a very well developed root ball. The top growth is dependent on the variety and when they were started. The earlier in the season they were started usually the more top growth they have. It they were taken in the later part of the season they might not have any top growth at all due to the fact that all top growth on Muscadine Vines stops after the end of August, but the root system continues to develop.
SPRAY PROGRAM FOR MUSCADINE VINES
The primary diseases that affect Muscadine Vines are Black Rot, Ripe Rot, and Powdery Mildew. The primary insects are Japanese Beatles, Aphids, and leaf-hopper. When managing the vineyard we should think preventive versus reactive, it is easier to prevent diseases and insects versus reacting to disease pressure and insect pressure.
Follow these guidelines to ensure healthy vines and high-quality fruit.
1. We make our first application when the vines have new growth that is 6-8 inches in length. We apply .4 ounces of captan fungicide and .4 ounces of liquid seven or malathion per gallon of water. We add a surfactant, but the home gardener can add a squirt or two of dish washing liquid such as Dawn or Ivory. We are making a light mist application to the leaves, if the application is-dripping off the leaves you are applying too much.
2. We repeat this application about 10 days after the first application, this should give you two applications prior to bloom.
3. During the bloom period we prefer not to spray reducing the risk of killing pollinators.
4. Once the bloom period is over and you see marble size fruit we suggest making a 3rd application at the same rates as the previous sprays.
5.We suggest a 4th spraying about 10-14 days after the previous spray at the same rate.
6. Depending on weather conditions your last spraying is usually about two weeks prior to harvest. Once harvest begins spray applications are no longer necessary.
COMPARING ROOTING HORMONES
What is Rooting Hormone?
Rooting hormone is a synthetic compound that helps plant cuttings to produce roots after they are treated with it. Although plants can thrive without a rooting hormone, its application increases the chance of plant’s successful & rapid rooting. Apart from this, it increases volume of roots that helps in increasing growth potential of your cuttings, and eventually their life potential after setting in the soil.
Types of Rooting Hormones
Rooting hormones are available in three forms- gel, powder and liquid. Rooting gel is in gel form whereas rooting powder is a talc-based powder. Rooting liquid is a liquid concentrate which is premixed with water or alcohol or requires delusion with water before application.
When using gel, the cutting is dipped into the gel then stuck into the propagation medium, usually one cutting at a time. Make sure to make a hole in the propagation medium so not to rub off the gel. The biggest disadvantage while using gel is that when you temporarily hold your cutting in water, the remaining water on the cutting dilutes the gel.
When using powder, the cuttings is dipped in water, to help the powder stick, then into the powder. Once again make a hole in the propagation medium so not to rub off the powder. Once again only one cutting at a time. The use of a powder rooting hormone is great for home owners who only want to propagate small quantities of plants.
When using a liquid rooting hormone as DIP-N-GROW, you can adjust the concentration by adding less or more water to the concentrate, depending on which type of cutting you are working with. For example a light solution of soft wood cuttings, a medium solution for semi-hard wood cuttings, or a heavy solution for hard wood cuttings. You can also control the length of time you are keeping the cuttings in the solution, usually 3-5 seconds and you never have to worry about rubbing the solution off of the cutting since it has soaked into the cutting. Another advantage is that you can dip anywhere from 1 to 50+ cuttings at a time. So now you can see why most professional growers use a liquid rooting hormone such as DIP-N-GROW.
After many studies, the results have shown that cuttings taken from the middle of June to the end of July can result in 80% success rate in your cuttings setting roots.
After the end of July you will be lucky in reaching a 50% success.
More studies have shown that if you take cuttings after Sept. 1, keep the cuttings in a mild solution of a propagation liquid for 24 hrs. at a low temp. of 4*c will increase your success to 80%. The cold storage is your fridge.
Yet another method of propagating Muscadine vines
researched by a professional Muscadine propagator is the following:
According to this study, when taking cuttings make sure that the cuttings have 6-8 buds, instead of 4. Remove the lower 2 leaves leaving 4-6 leaves. Add a growth hormone like Dip-N-Grow to the base of the cuttings. Stick these cuttings in an appropriate propagation mix. Then place these on a bed which has bottom heat leaving the bottom heat at 85*F for 5-6 wks and of course utilizing intermittent mist, 5 sec. on 5 min off from dawn to dusk.
WHAT IS PERLITE
As most of you know, perlite does not absorb water, but instead it holds water in the pores on its surface. A lot of plant propagators, including myself, use it in our propagation mediums because it is light weight, has great drainage and yet still holds some moister. Here is what most people don't know: coarse perlite actually holds less water than a finer grade of perlite in a given volume making it a better choice when propagating cuttings that don't like a lot of moister, like Muscadine cuttings.
MY HOME MADE POTTING SOIL
The best potting soil for my Muscadine Starter Vines is the one I make myself. I get a few yards of hard wood mulch, pile it up and let it compost for a year or so. Then i add a little bit of mushroom compost and it's done. It drains well, retains moisture and has a good PH.
POTTING YOUNG PLANTS
To save yourself a lot of time and hard work after you have potted your plants give them a shot of Osmocote and a a sprinkle of a good Pre-Emergent. By doing this you keep most weeds out for several month and at the same time supplying the plants with fertilizer for a long period of time.
I was emailed by someone where to find Dip-N-Grow.
I found mine on EBay. There are several good sources there.
USING WEED BLOCK
Once again I tried to save some money by using 4' wide weed block on my holding area. I over lapped the rows by about 6" to make it solid. Guess what, the weeds found their way through the over laps and grew between them. I will have to replace them with 15' wide weed block next spring.
HARD WOOD CUTTINGS
Muscadine cuttings should only be taken between the end of June until the beginning of Sept. you only have about a 1% to 2%
success using hard wood cutting. Using soft wood cuttings the success rate is much higher.
I got this email: Must different varieties be planted in separate areas to prevent crossing? If so, what is your recommended distance apart?
My answer: Just the opposite is true. Every female needs a self fertile variety with in 50' to produce fruit. A self fertile vine can produce fruit by itself. A self fertile vine and pollinate up to 4-5 females. In the squash world it is different. When they cross pollinate weird things happen. You never know what you get. I know. One year I got the weirdest looking squash. plants , that are making it , have as much as 10 inches growth
WIRE FENCING FOR TABLE TOPS
Using wire fencing for table tops sounds good, low cost with great air circulation. It sounded good but you can't slide a tray over the wire. They stick.
I went through several tips of mist heads for my mist system. The Misty Mist sprinkler heads so far are the best. They put out very little water and only cost 79 cents each.