Some Notes on Bunch Grapes in South Mississippi

I have a vineyard in Poplarville, MS with several different varieties of bunch grapes.  Some will make it, some won’t, but it is interesting to look nonetheless.  Below are some notes I made today on their growth and development.  These are all in their second leaf and first fruiting year.

Victoria Red — some Pierce’s Disease symptoms (PD), not extremely productive, clusters variable in size and shape, some vines no crop while others better, bird depredation and bees a problem, fruit is crisp and sweet with good flavor (close to neutral), some seeds, vines have good vigor, non-slipskin

Cimarron — very few clusters, small cluster size, slipskin with “Welchy” flavor, some PD symptoms, moderate vine vigor

Sunset — no crop, possible PD symptoms, low vigor

Cynthiana — moderate vigor, no fruit

Rubaiyat — possible PD symptoms, vine vigor varies among vines, some vines no fruit and some lots, slipskin, red flesh, flavor mild to neutral, good sized clusters when present, some vines appear stressed, some uneven ripening, some nutritional deficiency symptoms, bird and bee depredation

Lake Emerald — good fruit set, not ripening yet, evidence of nutritional deficiency, clusters loose, vine vigor good to moderate

Daytona — no fruit, vine vigor low to moderate

Champanel — few clusters, slipskin, mild fruit flavor, cluster size medium to large, “slimy” pulp, some nutritional deficiency symptoms, possible PD symptoms, vine vigor moderate, clusters loose

V12-375(?) — little fruit, vigorous growth, not ripening yet, clean foliage except a couple older leaves with possible PD or nutrient deficiency symptoms

Conquistador — no fruit, vine vigorous, shows nutrient deficiency, some leaves drying out and dying

Himrod — poor growth, no fruit

FAMU 99 — moderate vine vigor, no fruit

MidSouth — low to moderate vine vigor, little fruit, small clusters, intriguing “raspberry” flavor, slipskin

The varieties below have been harvested as of July 24.  Although they were not at optimal soluble solid levels, bird depredation dictated an early harvest so that my study would not be ruined.

Villard blanc — long, loose clusters, brix around 16, some leave damage from Pristine, nonslipskin, obvious “wine”-like grape flavor, vines moderate vigor

Blanc du bois — vines vigorous, large to medium cluster size, brix around 17-18, anthracnose a problem, slipskin

Miss blanc — less vigorous than VB and BdB, less fruit too, brix around 15

If you have questions or comments on these I would love to hear them.

‘Victoria Red’ Grape in South Mississippi

Last year I planted some ‘Victoria Red’ in Poplarville, MS.  They are not part of a study, but rather for observation — what kind of diseases will show up, how much to they produce, and will they survive?  So far, things have worked out okay.  Right now they are rolling on toward harvest.  This is the first year they are being fruited, so I don’t want to jump to too many conclusions yet.  At this point, I see some variability in cluster size.  I also see symptoms of Pierce’s Disease.  Whether or not these symptoms will lead to the demise of the vine is to be determined.  Below are a few photos that I took a couple weeks ago, as the clusters were starting veraison.

Victoria Red cluster starting veraison.  This cluster is more compact than some others.

Victoria Red cluster starting veraison. This cluster is more compact than some others.

Another Victoria Red cluster.  This one is longer and less compact.

Another Victoria Red cluster. This one is longer and less compact.

Symptoms of Pierce's Disease on Victoria Red

Symptoms of Pierce’s Disease on Victoria Red

Next year will really be interesting on these vines.  I only have fewer than a dozen, but they should yield some nice fruit (I hope).  If you are interested you can find more information on Victoria Red at this link:

Getting vines is difficult.  I see that Double A Vineyards advertises them but is out of stock.  Your best bet may be to get some from a nursery in Texas (where the cultivar was tested and released from).  I will continue to update the progress of this promising cultivar.



Scale Insect on Grapevines

Earlier this Spring I noticed some scale insects on my Victoria Red grapevines.  It was on only 3 of 12 vines.  I suspect they came in on the shipment of vines from Texas, but can’t be sure of it.  I am no scale identification expert, but to my eye they look like Grape-Cottony Maple Scale (see image below).

Scale on grapevine shoot

Scale on grapevine cane

Grape-Cottony Maple Scale (Pulvinaria vitis), overwinters as a small, brown scale on grape canes.  The “cottony” part is an egg sac that comes out in the Spring.  The scale can reduce the vigor of the vine as it feeds.  They may also carry and transmit viruses.  What to do about them?  Well, they can be pruned out (which is what I did) or sprayed with a horticultural oil during the dormant season or with approved insecticides.

Scale infestation on grapevine cordon

Scale infestation on grapevine cordon

The vines I had were severely infested with these scale insects, so I decided to cut off the infested parts.  In one case I took out the entire vine.  In the other two I cut it back close to the graft union.  It was not the most desirable thing to do, but these were observational plants and I had 9 more plants to look at.  I was really concerned that they would get into my experimental vines and didn’t want that to happen.

The Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook has a great description of this insect ( for more information.

Why the Fear of Unknown Wines?

Later this year I will be headed to Oklahoma to do some consulting for the Oklahoma Grape Industry Council.  The idea is to help growers improve production and quality in the vineyard.  Since I spent 6 years there I have knowledge of the diverse eco-regions within the state and some of the challenges that growers face.  Something that I heard while there and after is that consumers don’t want/won’t try wines they aren’t familiar with.  This means that the winery believes they need a Chardonnay, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot, etc. to be successful.  While I don’t dispute that wine consumers are narrowly focused, I also don’t buy into the idea that they won’t try or buy anything else.  I look to Minnesota and Missouri, which have thriving wine industries, without any or very little Vitis vinifera grapes being grown.  There are some states that cannot grow these grapes for one reason or another (too cold, disease, etc.).  Many states can grow them, but sometimes I question why.  Does the world need another mediocre/decent/good Cabernet Sauvignon?  I don’t pretend to know the answer to that and can only speak for myself — almost without fail I can find a superior bottle of wine at the store for far cheaper than the winery.  Now, I don’t want to diminish the wineries doing it — they produce a local product that helps the agricultural and tourist economies of the state.  Good for them and good for us.  But some places just shouldn’t be growing certain kinds of grapes when others produce a better product.  Since I work with the grape and wine industry I like to taste different wines to get a perspective on them.  I know I am in the minority, but I would choose a hybrid wine over almost any vinifera wine any day of the week.  Why?  To me vinifera wine is about nuance, the parameters of what the wine can offer is limited in scope.  If one buys 5 bottles of Cab from 5 different wineries in 5 different countries, do they taste the same?  No, but they are all familiar.  I like to seek out unfamiliar wines that challenge me.  Hybrid wines do that for me.  I have had some outstanding hybrid wines.  There are hybrid varieties that can produce excellent wines — Traminette, Chardonel, Frontenac gris, Norton, Chambourcin, Noiret, etc.  I like these wines.  Even a mediocre bottle of these wines has something to offer.  As Americans we like familiarity — every McDonald’s in the U.S. has the same food.  We expect that, we are comforted by that fact.  But, that doesn’t make it good.  I believe hybrid and vinifera wines can co-exist.  The problem is not in the vineyard or the winemaking — it is in the marketing and consumer education.  Until wineries and consumers branch out into the unknown, hybrid wines will be looked upon as inferior.  Unfortunately, that is a fallacy.

Fruit Crops for North Mississippi

Last week I was in Verona and gave a talk on Fruit Crops for North Mississippi at the Northern Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association annual conference.  The weather was cold, but the crowd inside was good.  Lots of interest and excitement about all kinds of fruit and vegetable related topics.  Below is a photo of Dr. Blake Layton, MSU Extension Entomologist, addressing the crowd.

Dr. Layton at the NMSFVGA meeting in Verona

Dr. Layton at the NMSFVGA meeting in Verona

Although I didn’t get a photo with me speaking (should I have done a selfie?) my presentation is available for download at the link below as a PDF.

Fruit Crops for Northern MS 2014

UPDATE:  After posting this I was chastised by Dr. John Clark at the University of Arkansas for not listing the UA peach and nectarine varieties.  My reply was that they were untested in N. MS so I didn’t know for sure how they would perform.  He thought they would do well in that area.  So, this link: will describe them and offer nurseries where to obtain them.

Center for Crop Diversification

This past weekend I was at the Southern Region – American Society for Horticultural Science meeting in Dallas.  At the meeting there were lots of great presentations.  One poster I saw was about the Center for Crop Diversification at the University of Kentucky.  They describe themselves as:

“The Center for Crop Diversification (formerly Crop Diversification & Biofuel Research & Education Center) offers printed and electronic resources on a variety of crops and marketing channels. Funding from The Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund will allow for expansion of the Center’s Web-based marketing and production resources. Funds will be used to develop online podcasts, webinars, video training, expanded price reports and new publications to meet the high demand for crop diversification information.

The Crop Diversification & Biofuel Research & Education Center (CDBREC) coordinated multi-disciplinary teams of faculty, staff and students to research and set guidelines for producing and marketing selected crops at a profit. The Center was funded by a Special Research Grant from the USDA from July 1, 2000, to June 30, 2013.”

There is a ton of information on this site ( about all kinds of crops.  They also have a Facebook page (

I especially like the Crop Resources section ( and the Crop Profiles section (

Take a look and see if you can find a new crop to grow.  One of the beauties of agriculture is diversity and this site helps find a (perhaps unusual) crop that speaks directly to you.

Powdery Mildew Resistance in Grapevines

Powdery mildew is a problematic disease for growers of winegrapes around the world.  Without control it can be a devastating disease.  As part of the VitisGen project, this video was produced to help educate current and future grape growers on the disease and some of the solutions that are being sought through breeding.


Online Muscadine Resources Presentation

This past weekend I gave a presentation at the SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah, GA.  The topic was “Online Muscadine Resources: Present and Future”.  It was in the Muscadine section and we had some great talks and lots of good discussion there.  Below you can download a pdf of my presentation as well as a handout with links to some online muscadine resources.

Online Muscadine Resources: Present and Future

Muscadine Online Resources, Savannah 2014

Fruit Problems Reported in Mississippi 2013

Each year the MSU Plant Diagnostic Clinic compiles a list of diseases/insects/disorders they see during the year.  Below are those that were seen in 2013.  You can access the entire list here:

The general format of the list shows the common name for the disease, followed by the scientific name of the pathogen, followed by a number in parentheses that indicates the number of times this problem was diagnosed in the lab.

Apple (Malus x domestica)
• Abiotic (1)
• Abiotic (Captan Injury Suspected) (1)

Blackberry (Rubus sp.)
• Canker (Coniothyrium sp.) (1) on ‘Arapaho’
• Yellow Vein Virus Disease Complex (1)

Blueberry (Vaccinium sp.)
• Abiotic (Pot Bound) (1)
• Abiotic (Iron Deficiency) (1) • Abiotic (Potassium Deficiency Suspected) (1)
• Anthracnose (Gloeosporium sp.) (1)
• Leaf Rust (Naohidemyces vaccinii formerly Pucciniastrum vaccinii) (1)
• Powdery Mildew (1)
• Insects (2)
• Sooty Mold (1)

Citrus (Citrus sp.)
• Insect Injury Suspected (1)
• Magnesium Deficiency Suspected (1)

Fig, Common (Ficus carica)
• Aerial Blight (Rhizoctonia solani) (2)
• Anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) (2)
• Fig Mosaic Virus (1)
• Pink Limb Rot (Corticum salmonicolor) (1)
• Root-knot Nematode (Meloidogyne sp.) (1)

Hickory (Carya sp.)
• Gnomonia Leaf Spot (Gnomonia caryae) (1)
• Sooty Mold (1)

Jujube (Ziziphus jujube)
• Leaf Spot (Cercospora sp.) (3)

Lemon (Citrus limon)
• Inadequate Sample (1)
• Insects (Scale) (1)

Mayhaw (Crataegus aestivalis)
• Quince Rust (Gymnosporangium clavipes) (1)

Muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia)
• Abiotic (Magnesium Deficiency Suspected) (1)
• Jelly Fungus Suspected (Tremallales sp. ) (1)

Nectarine (Prunus persica)
• Abiotic (Excessive Water) (1)

Peach (Prunus persica)
• Abiotic (Excessive Soil Moisture) (1)
• Bacterial Shot Hole (Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni) (4)
• Brown Rot (Monilinia fructicola) (1)
• Canker (Botryosphaeria sp.) (1)
• Root Rot (Armillaria sp.) (1)

Pear (Pyrus sp.)
• Leaf Spot (Cercospora sp.) (1)
• Fabrae Leaf Spot (Entomosporium sp.) (1)
• Quince Rust (Gymnosporangium clavipes) (1)

Pear (Pyrus communis)
• Abiotic (Magnesium deficiency suspected) (1)

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
• Abiotic (Kernel Fuzz) (1)
• Conk (Fomes fomentarius) (1)
• Insect (Pecan phylloxera) (1)
• Pecan Scab (Fusicladium effusum) (2)

Persimmon (Diospyros kaki)
• Abiotic (unknown) (1)

Satsuma (Citrus reticulata)
• Abiotic (Fruit Puffing)
• Abiotic (Magnesium deficiency suspected) (1)
• Insect Injury Suspected (possibly leaf footed bug) (1)
• Melanose suspected (Diaporthe citri) (1)

Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa)
• Abiotic (Glyphosate Injury) (1)
• Angular Leaf Spot (Xanthomonas fragariae) (1)
• Crown Rot (Phytophthora sp.) (1)