Muscadine Wars - A New Hope?


I started growing muscadines in the spring of 2021 as a fun thing to do during the pandemic. I had high hopes but now I’m feeling a bit defeated. I could use advice from any fellow growers who have the time and patience to help.


  • Location: Mobile County, AL - east of Mobile, AL.

  • Number and type of Trellis: 2x Single wire trellis @ 18’ end post to end post.

  • Muscadine vines: 2 year old ISON Supreme (female) and ISON Late Fry (self-fertile).

  • Planting Location and information: Backyard. I did not get soil pH but will be getting a tester today for each location. Trellis setup is L shaped with trunks in center of each about 16’ apart. Both planting locations did not hold water and seemed to drain well. The Supreme site was a bit better at draining though. Lot of clay, but mixed in Happy Frog soil when planting.

My experience so far


  • Supreme: Took off and made it to the top of the line. I was able to split growth and started running it left and right down the line. Seemed fairly healthy and not many spots to speak of. I was extremely pleased and excited by it’s 1st year growth.

  • Late Fry: I think I burned it with herbicide and it just stopped growing mid-season. It never picked up again enough to reach the top of the line. It was supposed to be my pollonater in 2022 but it didn’t look promising.


  • Supreme: Started strong again in the spring. I did NOT prune the original vines running left and right on the line all the way back to the trunk and let it bud and produce new growth from old vine. Watered it often, but not too much. Started noticing that the new growth tendrils would start to push out and then blacken at the tips and shrivel and die. This went on from March/April - May/June and completely stunted the growth of the vine. It never produced blossoms or any clusters at all. Then leaves started showing a variety of spot types so I purchased and used a non-grape “rose and flower spray” that helps against insects and diseases. Didn’t seem to hurt it but I’ll change it in the future. Seems mostly stuck.

  • Late Fry: Has been stunted since last year and has barely made it up to the line this season.

The Nematodes Strike Back:

Somehow… the grapevine fanleaf virus (GFLV) was introduced into my backyard and has now spread to both vines (and some side vines I had raised from seeds). I believe that I spread it to the other vines by not using alcohol on my sheers between plants when pruning. My wife brought home multiple vegetable plants/pots from friends this summer and used the sheers on them as well. I’m leaning towards that as the vector. However, everytime I see the malformed fanleaves, it makes me sick. You can read more about it here - Grapevine Fanleaf Degeneration Disease – Grapes

Based on everything I’ve read, there isn’t anything I can do to help them or the soil now. Most discussions instruct people to take down the vines and all the roots I can and then plant somewhere else. Unfortunately, I have a small back yard so I don’t have other places to plant additional muscadines.

And that is where I am. I made some stupid mistakes and also had some pretty bad luck I think. If you made it this far, thank you. Here are the major questions I could use some help answering before I decide what to do next.


  1. If I have the GFLV virus in my backyard and can only replant in the same-ish areas, should I stop trying to grow Muscadines at this time? I could potentially plant a new vine against one of the posts and just run it down the line one way. Perhaps it would be far enough from the middle planting site that it would not be impacted like the others.

  2. I’m removing the Late Fry and need to replace it with another self-fertile variety. What would anyone suggest I plant to pollinate my Supreme - which is a midseason harvest? I have both a Paulk and Ison vine in my cart to purchase if they’d be a good match.

  3. I currently have a Supreme vine that is limping along. Perhaps with the right herbicide/pesticide/TLC, it could be salvageable. However, it is affected by GFLV and didn’t have a strong 4th year. Should I just replace both vines with 2 yr old vines purchased from ISON?

I have more questions, but I’ve already taken enough of your time.

Thanks again for any advice,



Any type of grapes are very sensitive to herbicide, you don’t even need to actually hit the plant to harm them, I don’t grow Muscadines, nor have I done any real research on them, so I have no idea what would be a good choice for you.


I agree @alanmercieca. A good place to start is being careful with your application of herbicides. You can occasionally use it (glyphosate) in my opinion but how careful you apply it can be critical. You already have a trellis set up so all you need is more vines. I would remove all the vines now that appear to have problems and plant more this winter. I would also plant all self fertile varieties such as Hall, Paulk etc. Greg Ison has some of the best videos about each phase of growing muscadines. When all is said and done you might still have issues but I think that it is worth trying.


Sorry to hear about your bad luck. It does sound mostly like bad luck, I have never heard of that fan leaf virus.

I would probably take out all the grapes and plant not in exactly the same spot, i.e. a couple feet away. It might not work but given that you don’t have a lot of years into it I would give it a try.

I have Ison for my self-fertile variety, I keep it really small and still everything gets pollinated. They are OK for cooking but after tasting the better ones you won’t be too excited about eating Ison fresh.


Concur on Ison. If you only have one pollinator, Ison so far has been my best.

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Thanks for the insight all.

Do I need to match the “Harvest Periods” of both my female and self-fertile vines? For instance, can I match my midseason Supreme with another non-midseason pollinator vine?

Maturity date with muscadines has very little correlation with pollen production. Most muscadines tend to shed pollen very close to the same time pistillate flowers are receptive. Also, muscadines tend to have some early blooms, a large middle bloom, followed by a tapering off late bloom. This usually gives pollen over about a 3 week period. There are very few issues with muscadines in terms of pollen overlap with female blooms.

Ison matches very well with Supreme as a pollinator.


Thanks Fusion. I tried to Google an answer to that one and came up empty.

For better or worse, I decided to go with a Paulk and a Noble since I read you could make wine with Noble. And based on my luck the previous two years… I’m going to need some.