A website from UGA Cooperative Extension

Lawn and gardening information for Colquitt County from the Extension office..

This time of year, muscadines are on everybody’s mind. Muscadines are ideal for backyard gardens because they are easy to produce They are truly a fruit for the South. Questions such as when to prune are fertilize come from muscadine enthusiasts. Let’s go over some key points about home muscadine production.

How do you prune them? I am glad you asked.  Muscadine fruit are borne on new shoots arising from last year’s growth.  Please prune back the canes that grew the previous year, leaving about 3 inches of growth to form spurs. Muscadine pruning should occur in February or early March. Don’t be alarmed if the vines “bleed” at pruning cut, this does not harm the vines.

     When you leave too many buds on the vine, the plant overproduces and the fruit is poor. After three or four years of production, you will need to remove every other spur cluster to prevent overcrowding. Try to leave spurs that are on the top of the arms.  It is a good idea to remove old fruit stems since they are a source of disease.

     Please remove tendrils that wrap around the arms or spurs. What is a tendril? Tendrils are finger-like plant parts muscadines use to attach themselves to their supporting structure. What if I do not remove them? If tendrils are not removed, they will girdle the arms or spurs and cause reduced production. What are some ways to control disease? One way to control diseases is to remove old fruit stems if fruit rots are a problem since the disease may overwinter in the old stems.

     Now let’s talk about fertilizing your muscadines.  If your vines are in the first year of production it is suggested to apply fertilizer three times. Producers need to apply ½ pound of 10-10-10 or equivalent after the plants have been settled by rain. The vines would require another application of 2 ounces of ammonium nitrate in late May. The third application will consist of 2 ounces of ammonium nitrate in early July. Broadcast each application over a 2-foot circle centered on the plant.

      In the second year, the timing and method are the same as the first year. Double the rate for each application. Increase the diameter of the broadcast circle to 4 feet.

     If your vines have grown well the first two years and you expect a crop, apply 2 pounds of 10-10-10 or equivalent per vine in March. It is suggested to apply 1 pound of 10-10-10 per vine in May. Broadcast in a 6-foot circle. If plants have not done well, fertilize as instructed for the second year.

     If your vines become established please apply 3 to 5 pounds of 10-10-10 or equivalent per plant in March of each year. Then apply ½ pound of ammonium nitrate around June 1.

      Check the soil pH about every three years. Your county extension agent has kits for sampling. If liming is necessary, use the dolomitic lime.

     Grapes have a relatively high requirement for magnesium. Each year, hundreds of Georgians have grape vines that suffer from a shortage of magnesium. This shows up as yellowing between the veins of older leaves. This yellowing progresses up the shoots as the leaves grow older. Premature fruit fall may also result. To prevent or correct magnesium deficiency, apply Epsom salts at the rate of 2 to 4 ounces for one- and two-year-old vines; and 4 to 6 ounces for older vines. Be sure to evenly broadcast Epsom salts over a 3- to 6-foot area.

All of this information is in the publication “Home Garden Muscadines.” It is available online or at your local county Extension office. If you have questions about muscadine production please contact your local county Extension agent.

Posted in: