Muscadine Grapes or Scuppernong
Muscadinia rotundifolia (formerly Vitis rotundifolia)
- Type: Deciduous
- Zone: 7 – 10
- Native to East Texas
- Harvest: Early-August through September
- Sun: Full Sun, Fruit Set and Production will be Reduced if the Vines are Shaded
- Soil: Grows in a Wide Range of Soils; Good Internal Drainage is Required; 6.0 – 6.5 pH
Male and female Muscadine grapes are purple or black while male and female Scuppernongs are bronze or golden with cultivars that produce small, medium, or large grapes. These Southern grapes are much larger individual berries than bunch grapes; but they grow in smaller pods or bunches and have a thicker skin. The fruit has a distinct fruity or “musky” aroma, while the juice by itself is sweet with a light taste and aroma. Muscadines are considered a traditional southern grape; yet they grow in USDA zones 7-10. Muscadine varieties ripen from early August through September. Mature fruit are easily dislodged from the vine. Ripe berries can be harvested rapidly by placing a canvas or catching frame under the vine and shaking vigorously. Harvest every 2 to 5 days.
Muscadine grapes are native to the Southeastern United States and has been cultured for more than 400 years. Native Americans preserved Muscadines as dried fruit long before Europeans inhabited this continent. As early as 1565, Capt. John Hawkins reported that Spanish settlements in Florida made large quantities of Muscadine wine. The first recognized Muscadine cultivar was a bronze selection, found before 1760 by Isaac Alexander in Tyrrell County, NC. Known as the ‘Big White Grape’, it was later named ‘Scuppernong’ after the area in which it was found.
- Muscadines have a high degree of tolerance to pests and diseases. As a native it is resistant or tolerant to Pierce’s Disease, although some varieties are susceptible (Carlos). PD causes marginal leaf burn but typically does not kill vines (except possibly Pride).
- Muscadine grapes are quite drought tolerant. Water during dry periods the first two years, then the vines can usually obtain adequate water from the soil even during dry periods.
- Muscadine grapes have a relatively high requirement for magnesium; and a shortage shows up as yellowing between the veins of older leaves. Premature fruit fall may also result. To prevent or correct magnesium deficiency, apply Epsom salts at the rate of 2 to 4 ounces for 1 and 2 year-old vines. For older vines, apply 4 to 6 ounces. Be sure to broadcast Epsom salts evenly over a 3 to 6 foot area and water it into the soil well.
The fruit is very popular with Southerners for making into juice, wine, pies, and jellies.