The muscadine grapevine species is found in the southeastern region of the United States. It is commercially cultivated on a large-scale in warm regions such as Florida, Texas, and Kansas. The muscadine is also known as scuppernong. The grapes have thick skins and they exhibit different colors such as purple, bronze, and black. Being a plant from warm regions, the muscadine cannot tolerate frost.
The vines grow about 60-100 feet in length. Their bark is hard and the tendrils are unbranched. Leaves of the grapevine are broad. They are dark green on the dorsal side while, their ventral side is yellowish. When the plant reaches maturity, the leaves become firm.
The muscadine grapevine being dioecious, the male and female reproductive parts are present on two different plants. Reproduction takes place by means of wind and insect pollination.
The fruit berries of muscadine grapes are present in loose and small clusters. A single fruit is about 1to 1.5 inch in size. The sugar content of the fruits range from 16 to 25%. The flavor of black muscadines resembles that of jaboticaba.
The grapevines of muscadines should be planted facing the south. A well drained soil is needed for grape cultivation. This plant grows well in sandy loam soils. The muscadines also show vigorous growth in alluvial soils. It requires a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5. If the pH is too high, sulfur can be added to solve the problem.
The fertilizer requirements of this plant are high. It requires nitrogen in a high quantity. The application of fertilizers in the first year is done in bands that are 12 inches away from the base of the plant. In the next year, the distance should be further increased to 48 inches.
If the vines are not pruned, a strangled woody mass of the branches is formed. Pruning also helps in allowing the growth of new shoots. Pruning should be done every year to maintain the framework of the grapevine which consists of a trunk, spurs, and arms. The outgrowths from the woody shoots of the previous season are mostly sterile. Thus, pruning allows new growth only from the buds.
The layering technique of propagation is used in case of muscadine grapevines. Generally the propagation is done in the middle of summer. In this technique, the canes of the grapevines from the previous season are lowered to the ground surface and covered with soil. New roots develop from the point at which the cane touches the ground. Bench grafting is also used in the propagation of muscadines. However, they are not compatible with the European grapevine species.
Since the berries drop at different times of the year, a tarpaulin is spread beneath the vine to collect the harvest. Fruits are also picked by hands. The picking or collection of fruits is done between mid September and the end of October. A single vine produces about 20 pounds of fruits. Light refrigeration is recommended to store the fruits.
During the grape harvest seasons, roadside grape vendors are a common sight. The fruit has a tremendous market value. Various edible items such as jellies and fresh juice are prepared from the muscadine grape.