I’m a glutton for punishment I guess. After initially writing off muscadines I think I’m going to try growing some. I am intrigued by their disease resistance and pest resistance versus grapes and how healthy they are for you. Seems like they are mostly rated for zone 7 or higher but there seem to be several people here that have successfully grown them in similar climates to mine. I’m going to buy two varieties for pollination reasons. Seems like Isons is one of the better vendors. Seems like everyone loves and recommends Black Beauty so maybe I’ll start there. What other variety would compliment BB best? Obviously I want good taste but I also want as much cold hardiness as possible and also a good pollination partner. I dont care if it’s black, red, or bronze. Any suggestions?
I really like Triumph as a pollinator with great taste. It is a large bronze and my favorite of all. The problem is Ison’s is sold out of Triumph. I just ordered those from Bottoms Nursery. @Sunny_Orchard grows muscadines. He may be near you.
When my vines were young. They were more prone to winter damage. Some of them even died back to the ground. But as they age, they seems to be hardier. I would plant them in a pot inside on the 1st year or mulch the heck out of them if I was in 6B. As for varieties: triumph, hall and lane are the way to go. Sticking with early variety as we go further north ensure a good harvest. You can try black beauty but it’s more like a late variety here. Stretching out until frost. Sugargate, Early Fry and Darlene are good early-ish varieties. Nestbitt will start early and stretch out until late.
Hope you can get some solid advice from others in you growing area. Lane is a good tasting pollinator for my area.
Ison and Granny Val are cold susceptible here in North Alabama. I can grow Ison, but have occasional winter injury including die back to the ground. Granny Val is no go.
Big Red is the best tasting muscadine but is finicky to grow. If you get it past the 3rd year, it will amaze you how productive the vines are and how sweet the fruit gets. I have had minor winter injury on Big Red when temps got below 0F.
Supreme is arguably the most consistently productive large fruited muscadine. I don’t know how much farther north it will grow but it is completely hardy here in north Alabama.
I got an early sample of an unnamed black muscadine from Ison back in 2008. It has been relatively difficult with poor production and disease problems. I finally figured out what it needed last year. I fertilized it with half a wheel barrow full of dried chicken manure. The vines grew 6 or more feet of new growth and produced a very heavy crop of fruit. It is very late maturity which can stretch the season out by nearly a month. I rate the eating quality as poor compared to most of the other varieties available. It is decent for the late maturity but not up to snuff compared to Big Red, Supreme, Black Beauty, or Ison.
I have grown muscadines for about 15 years now, and I only had one year in there where they suffered any winter damage. My Carlos vine cracked on the trunk and the vine then had to grow back from the roots. I also had some lost shoots some years but it was very minor. The lows I had were down to 0F or a bit below, but on average I get down to about 3-4F as the coldest. So it seems like down to 0F besides Carlos things look pretty good; below that I don’t have any info.
I like Supreme, Black Beauty, Darlene the most. I use Ison for a pollinator but I would probably get a Lane if starting over as it sounds better - Ison is fine but when they are ripening next to Supreme its clear that one is “supreme” in taste!
Thanks for all the suggestions. Stark has Triumph in stock. I’d rather purchase from a single source though. As far as Isons is concerned I could get Hall and Lane. How much earlier are they than Supreme?
Whatever I decide to purchase should I get the plus version that’s twice the size for a couple of extra bucks?
Also, if I were to actually add a seedless table grape into my cart during an Isons order which would be the one to get? Relience?
I like Black Beauty a lot. Mine ripened just fine (all done by mid-October) in what is likely a similar or colder area. Supreme was later and Late Fry didn’t fully ripen, even in November, though it isn’t in as sunny an area, which likely contributed.
Not only is Black Beauty tasty, but it survived unprotected (I think -8F, but it was a few years ago, so I’m not sure), when Supreme, Fry Seedless, and Late Fry died back to their protective mulch.
SMC had Lane survive -12F (wow), so that seems like one to add. I planted it myself last year, so hopefully I’ll know soon how it did.
Thanks for starting this post. I have been concerned about Supreme being winter killed in my area and it looks like it can handle much colder temps than my area.
Seems like everyone buys from Isons but will be curious how the plants from Bottems compare. Anyone else purchased from them and have first hand experience? They have Triumph and Lane so that would be a dark variety and a light variety. They do sell reliance grape too but now I’m thinking I might prefer somerset.
I ordered my Darlene’s from Ison’s for two reasons. Bottoms doesn’t have it and the 2 year plants from Ison’s can not be beat. That being said Bottoms was recommended by Ison’s to get the Triumph that they didn’t have.
Your choices of Triumph and Lane are both self fertile. That’s not a problem but just so you know. You could add females later if you wanted.
I don’t know much about muscadines. Are you saying that if I’m only buying 2 varieties I should get a female and a self fertile?
I don’t think it will matter. I think they are good choices. I haven’t tasted Lane yet. I have some first year plants and I’ll get some grapes this year but everyone says it’s really good. If you do add any later you won’t have to worry about pollinator.
As soon as I asked you about the self fertile vs female muscadines I read Isons page explaining the difference. I’m not sure how I didn’t see they earlier. There appears to be many many female varieties. You mention Darlene and of course there are Supreme and black beauty which are talked about often. Anyone have the 15-1-1 variety. It’s labeled as a zone 6 grape with lost of sweetness and size. Maybe I could do Lane and and the 15-1-1. But I’d kind of like to have a light and a dark.
When I got mine I thought I would like the dark better but it turns out the bronze are my favs. That’s not to say I don’t like the black ones. Darlene is supposed to have excellent flavor for a bronze (I have a one year plant and ordered more this year) but I haven’t studied much on the cold hardiness. The 15-1-1 just came out so I’m not sure what the reviews are going to be. I think the females are supposed to produce more and larger fruit than the self fertile but the Triumph is a large grape. I went to the ison site to see what you read and I wonder if you misconstrued this statement: Self-fertile muscadine varieties do not cross pollination and produce fruit on their own. It makes it sound like the self fertile do not produce fruit on their own but it should read: Self-fertile muscadine varieties do not cross pollination and they produce fruit on their own. I think they just have an awkward sentence structure there because the self fertile will produce fruit without a female present.
This is what it should read.
Self-fertile muscadine varieties do not require cross pollination. They produce fruit on their own.
What it does not say is that muscadine flowers still have to be pollinated, but self-fertile varieties are more likely to be pollinated during inclement spring weather. Tomato (wild species) and apple rely on Self-incompatibility genes to prevent self pollination. Wild muscadine uses defective stamens to prevent self-pollination of female varieties. The first self-fertile (perfect flowered) muscadine was found in North Carolina about 100 years ago. The “self-fertile” gene just repairs the defective stamens making the plant capable of producing pollen.
One caution with muscadine should be heeded by all growers. Proper pruning is REQUIRED to prevent a sequence of overbearing followed by winter cold injury. Even in a zone where a variety is normally hardy, failure to properly care for the vines can result in serious problems.
I’m not sure how long it will take for the conversion but I feel like the self fertile varieties will soon be the most planted vines. New varieties like Lane are getting close in quality to several of the female varieties in quality.
Sweet Jenny is a variety I don’t hear talked about much, but it’s possibly the best muscadine I’ve ever eaten, and between what I’ve grown myself and tasted from friends’ vines I’ve tasted well over a dozen named varieties. Sweet Jenny is super tasty and sweet and has really good size. In my experience, it’s not nearly as productive as some of the self-fertile varieties, but I’ve mostly been happy enough with the productivity.
Darlene in my experience is close to Sweet Jenny in taste, similar in productivity, too, but the fruits aren’t as big, and I lose a noticeable percentage to rot issues, which haven’t been a problem with Sweet Jenny (although I planted the two varieties in two very different locations.)
I think Hunt is a loser, at least for fresh eating. It’s fairly productive and free of problems, and its size is pretty good, but the sweetness is lacking. Maybe it would be good for some kind of processing, though.
I set out a Sweet Jenny plant in 1988. It was way too prone to fruit splitting and fruit quality issues. 1 3/4 inch fruit is nice, but not when the crop is limited. This could be from difference in soil and climate. I have a vine planted now that is due for the first year of production meaning that it will produce 30 or more pounds of fruit. I’m waiting to see how it turns out at this location.
These are the varieties I have growing including 3 seedlings from Big Red crossed to Ison. I have 2 plants of several of these.
No Name Black (evaluate)
Just for fun, I dug out the list of muscadines I planted in 1988 to see how it compared with recommended varieties today.
Of the above, Summit, Redgate, Supreme, Big Red, Black Beauty, and Ison were most memorable. Jumbo, Higgins, and Cowart stick out for the opposite reason. Higgins is not a bad grape, but it is not in the same category as Black Beauty or Supreme. Cowart is better used as a wine grape. Big Girl was a disaster. Fruit size was nearly 2 inches, but quality was terrible.