The varieties produced from muscadine grapes must be no stranger to wine lovers. They not only have an attractive taste but also have a high nutritional value.
But have you ever felt curious about the ingredients that make it?
When is Muscadine season? What factors affect its quality? Scroll down and get the answer.
When Is Muscadine Season?
The muscadine season in Georgia usually starts as early as August at the southernmost tip. The further north you move, the slower the harvest season, but it usually ends in October.
Muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia or scuppernong) is a commercial grape variety native to the southeastern United States.
Its distribution is concentrated mainly in the region of Georgia; you can find it everywhere except in the high mountains.
This is not a favorite grape of many people, like the green or red grape varieties you often see on grocery store shelves
It has a thicker skin and a strong alcohol smell, so people often use it to make Muscadine wine.
The state has about 80 grape growers with over 1,200 acres of Muscadine vineyards. There are also a lot of pick-your-own farms (visitors can pick their own and pay) around the state.
That’s why the annual scuppernong season is as bustling as a festival here.
Factors Affecting Muscadine Harvest Time
Understanding the factors affecting the growth of trees, especially fruit trees, is the first condition to have a bountiful harvest.
For Muscadine to grow well, produce many fruits, and have the best quality, it is necessary to ensure the following factors:
The Muscadine vines like light, prefer a sunny spot, and need at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.
Therefore, you should plant them in a place with lots of light to facilitate the flowering and fruiting process.
Plant Muscadines can generally grow on many different soil types, such as sandy, sandy, or hilly.
But for the best quality and quantity, you should grow them on loose and well-draining soil samples, which are ideal conditions as these grapes are prone to waterlogging.
The appropriate pH is in the range of 6 -7. With soils with a pH below 6, if you still want to plant, you must use lime to fertilize the soil.
Soils like acidic soils, alkaline soils, and clay loam soils will take a lot more care.
Regular weeding is essential, but excessive sun exposure should be avoided. Tidy up each crop’s soil to remove the old roots and regenerate new ones.
The hole should be deep and large enough for the roots to spread.
The root is a storehouse of nutrients but is extremely sensitive to hypoxia. Therefore, ensuring good drainage and not letting the tree fall into a saturated state is necessary.
The correct watering technique depends directly on the weather conditions in each period.
It would help if you watered more in the dry season, and in the rainy season, you can water less, even without watering.
Temperature and humidity
Muscadines prefer warm climates. The ideal temperature for plant activity should not be below 5°F.
Muscadine does not need much fertilizer; a balanced amount of 10-10-10 is enough for the plant to grow in early spring or late winter.
Do not apply more than one pound of fertilizer a year; do not place fertilizer too close to the tree’s base.
What Are Common Diseases In Muscadine Grape Season?
The grape’s yield depends not only on the climatic conditions but also on the observance of agricultural rules and the types of diseases and disease pests.
Muscadine is a rather sensitive plant, so these grape varieties are easy targets of pathogens.
Here are some diseases that cause great headaches for gardeners:
Angular Leaf Spot
Pathogens only attack leaves. When newly infected, the plant leaves appear in pale yellow spots. They are easy to spot because they look quite prominent on the leaf blade at the lower level.
When the disease advances, the white spots appear as black spots with normal angular shapes.
These symptoms can spread to the entire leaf blade, causing them to turn yellow, get sunburned, and eventually die gradually.
Severely infected trees will experience more severe leaf drops towards the end of the season.
The decreasing number of leaves reduces the vigor of the plant, reduces the yield, and affects the quality of the fruit.
This is a serious disease for many grape varieties. It is caused by a fungus whose scientific name is Mycosphaerella angulata.
Water and wind are the agents that disperse fungal spores from infected leaves to other leaves.
This pathogen thrives in humid and hot environments, especially at the beginning of the grape growing season. Thus, regularly check the garden for signs of disease.
Ensure proper fertilization and eliminate wild musk vine stands near and around the vineyard.
The cause of black rot is Guignardia bidwellii – a fungus that attacks young stems, leaves, and fruit.
During the rainy season or when there is standing water overnight, it will form and enter the tree through scratches, cuts, or bites of snails or insects.
Symptoms of black rot are various, depending on the host, age, cultivar, and environmental conditions. The leaves slowly turn yellow-brown, dry up, and turn black.
Infected fruit will appear black, dry, and rough. They gradually enlarge, causing the fruit to die and fall off. This disease overwinters on healthy and infected plants.
It spreads very quickly, possibly even before you notice any symptoms.
It’s spread through water splashes when watering plants, wind, animals, and gardeners. Symptoms will appear first in the lower foliage.
To control the spread of disease, carefully clean garden equipment using a drip irrigation system.
Powdery mildew is caused by the fungus Uncinula necator.
The disease first appeared in the US, then found in the UK, and spread to all wine-growing regions worldwide, including countries with tropical climates.
The fungus attacks parts such as branches, leaves, old leaves, and especially fruits.
The disease often appears in winter-spring crop conditions, causing damage after the fruiting stage from 5 to 7 days, and lasts until muscadines get ripe.
The disease has a pale grayish-white mold on branches and leaves, then turns to ash-gray, on which there are small black seeds.
The condition on the leaves develops in association with each other, causing the leaves to dry out in large patches.
This is a fairly common disease for berry crops. The main cause is the fungus Melanconium fuliginous. Its hallmarks are mature fruit that have an unusually bitter taste.
The fungus grows on the fruit’s stem, causing the fruit to become dry and dark in color. The disease also infects leaves and shoots during winter months and is difficult to control.
It is a highly contagious disease caused by the fungus Glomerella cingulata. Infected berries are rust-colored, gradually rotting and falling off. This mark is difficult to detect with black or red shell varieties.
The fungus Botryosphaeria dothidea is a major cause of stem and berry rot. It appears when the fruit is about to ripen with a few small light brown spots but progresses extremely quickly.
How To Harvest Fruit Muscadine Grapes?
Harvest time starts from 30-70 days after the tree bears fruit. With Muscadine, the harvest season usually falls from the end of August to the end of October, depending on the variety.
Some varieties need to be harvested twice, others like Welder or Fry need five times.
Hand harvesting is the most common method. Farmers use manual or electrically powered knives or scissors to cut the stalks of bunches.
The farmers place the whole bunch of grapes in a collection basket and send it to the winery (wine variety) or cold storage for storage.
Except for those that make wine, you need to cut the long stem to hold it for convenient handling, storage, and packaging.
For large-scale farms, harvesting by machine will save more time and effort. However, this method is only suitable for wine-making varieties because the whole grape varieties are easily crushed.
Farmers operate machines that move through the rows of trees and use rubber tools to shake grapes down a conveyor belt.
They use mesh layers to remove other junk materials and send them to the winery.
How To Preserve Muscadines Fruit After Harvesting?
To keep the Muscadine fresh grapes for a long time, only harvest them when they are fully ripe; otherwise, they will not reach the desired quality.
Properly sorting and storing grapes will help them retain their freshness and limit loss.
After harvesting, sort them by size and weight and discard rotten, scratched fruit. Wash the bunch of grapes with clean water 3-4 times to remove all dirt, dry leaves, and foreign objects.
You can also soak them in a CaCl2 (Calcium chloride) solution. This method can help preserve Muscadine for about 3 weeks with less wilting, color change, and reduced sweetness and vitamin content.
Just dip the bunch of Muscadine grapes in 1% CaCl2 solution for 3 minutes. Then, hang them on a rack or use a fan to dry the water quickly.
Please use a styrofoam carton to pack grapes. Arrange 1-2 layers of bunches of fruit in the box; you can put cotton on the bottom of the box first to limit scratches and bruises.
Secure the packages with tape or wire and let them cool to about 33°F.
So we have just found the answer: when is muscadine season? The time may vary slightly depending on many factors, but it usually lasts from August to October every year.
If you want to pick these succulent grapes, try to come here during this period.