When it comes to grapes, most gardeners think of table grapes, seedless green or red varieties, or wine grapes. But a true Southern delicacy is the muscadine grape. Native to the southeastern part of the U.S., they are native throughout Arkansas except in the colder regions up north. While wild varieties can be tasty, improved cultivated varieties offer plenty of options. They have a distinctive flavor and aroma and are quite high in antioxidants.
In the wild, muscadine plants are either male or female and both are needed to produce fruit. In cultivated varieties, you can choose either female-only blooms or perfect flowers containing both male and female flowers, often sold as self-fertile. To produce fruit, you can grow a perfect or self-fertile variety or a combination of perfect and female plants.
One vine of a perfect plant can pollinate up to eight female plants. Female varieties usually produce larger, sweeter fruits, but need perfect flowering plants to pollinate them. Perfect plants typically have higher yields.
Fruit color varies from black, red, bronze, or green with some varieties having large seeds, while others are seedless. Muscadines are easy to grow and much less susceptible to disease. While they do benefit from annual pruning, the pruning is not as severe or exacting as for table and wine grapes.
In the wild, you will find muscadine vines growing up trees, but in cultivation, it is best to grow them on a trellis or a fence row. They are fairly adaptive to soil types but will produce best in full sun with a minimum of eight hours of sunlight. Fertilize annually in the spring as they begin to grow.
The first year after planting, you will prune to develop the framework of the plant. Every year after that, prune in late winter/early spring — before new growth begins to increase yields.
|Variety||Flower Types||Color||Other Attributes|
|Black Beauty||Female||Black||Large fruit, good plant vigor.|
|Carlos||Perfect||Bronze||Good cold-tolerance, high yield, good plant vigor.|
|Cowart||Perfect||Black||Good pollinator, medium-large fruit.|
|Darlene||Female||Reddish bronze||Largest fruit, excellent flavor.|
|Fry||Female||Bronze||Large fruit, good flavor.|
|Nesbitt||Perfect||Black||Large, flavorful fruit with great plant vigor.|
|Scuppernong||Female||Bronze||Oldest variety, good flavor, very cold-tolerant|
|Sugargate||Female||Black||Large fruit, early season, good cold-hardiness.|
|Summit||Female||Bronze||Large, flavorful fruit, good disease - and cold-hardiness.|