Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grapes Are One of the Easiest Fruits to Grow in This Area; but If You Prefer to Just Pick Them, Vineyards Are Opening Now

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grapes Are One of the Easiest Fruits to Grow in This Area; but If You Prefer to Just Pick Them, Vineyards Are Opening Now

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Brite DelValle

The Florida grape season is here and whether you eat them fresh, make wines or jams and jellies, they're a great fruit crop. You can either grow your own, or visit a local you-pick vineyard to reap the rewards.

Grapes are one of the easier fruits to grow in our area. All you need is a sunny spot with well-drained soil, a strong trellis, a pair of pruning shears and good healthy plants. There are two types available at local nurseries: bunch grapes and muscadine grapes. Bunch grapes are more difficult to grow because the grapes grow in a tight cluster making them more susceptible to diseases and pests. The novice gardener should stick with muscadine varieties.

The muscadine grapes are a wonderful crop for the Southeast. Known for their unique flavor, they are very different from the California seedless grapes at local stores. Muscadines have a stronger flavor, seeds and a thick inedible skin. There is a technique to eating these that those of us from the South have perfected. Just squeeze the pulp and juice into your mouth through the stem end, enjoy the essence of the fruit and spit out the seeds.

Muscadine fruit are smaller than bunch grapes and are harvested as single berries. They are native to Florida and are seldom seriously affected by disease or insect pests.

Muscadine varieties recommended for our area include:

FOR EATING

- Bronze - Fry*, Granny Val, Pam*, Pineapple, Summit*, Sweet Jenny*, Tara

- Purple/Black - Black Beauty*, Black Fry*, Farrer*, Ison, Nesbitt, Polyanna, Southern Home, Supreme*

FOR JUICE, WINE, JELLY

- Bronze - Carlos, Welder

- Black - Alachua, Noble

* These vines have female flowers only and require a self-fertile (perfect flowered) muscadine nearby for fruit set.

All other varieties should be planted within 25 feet or less from those with female flowers. Ison, Polyanna and Tara have good potential as pollinizers for those with female flowers.

There are pluses and minuses to each variety. For example, Fry is considered to have the best flavor for the bronze-colored grapes, but Summit may be preferred because vines are more disease resistant.

Granny Val, Pineapple, Carlos, and Supreme tend to overproduce, which may seem like a plus. But instead, this stresses the vines and often results in dieback.

Southern Home is an interesting variety developed by the University of Florida. …

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