Growing Bunch Grapes in Mississippi

Last Friday I gave a presentation at the Fall Flower & Garden Fest entitled “Growing Bunch Grapes in Mississippi”. This festival is held every year in Crystal Springs, Mississippi at the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Experiment Station. I usually attend and give a talk on some aspect of fruit crops. This year it was bunch grapes. Of course one cannot cover all aspects of growing grapes in a 30 minute block, but the link below will take you to the presentation (as a PDF file). It gives some of the very basics when considering bunch grapes in our climate. So, take a look and if you have any questions feel free to ask!

Growing Bunch Grapes in Mississippi


Measuring Grapevine Growth

For three seasons I have had a study going on how grapevines respond to producing a crop in the season after they were planted.  In 2013 I planted three cultivars — Blanc du bois, Villard blanc, and Miss blanc.  In that first season I was able to get them trained onto the cordon wire (single wire high curtain system). In season two I had three different treatments: removal of blooms, removal of fruit at veraison, and harvested fruit.  In season three, all vines were harvested (some even going to produce a commercial product, but that is a discussion for a later post) and today I measured trunk calipers.  I have not analyzed the data yet, but I will look at cultivar and treatment effects on vine trunk size.  Below is a photo of the process:

Caliper measurements on a grapevine trunk

Caliper measurements on a grapevine trunk

I have a little more data to collect and then I will be able to start analyzing the data and writing up the results. This study was also done in Oklahoma before I moved to Mississippi, only with different cultivars. It will be interesting to see how the results compare. Growing grapes is expensive and growers need to start recovering expenses quickly. If grapes can be harvested starting one year earlier then the time to recover initial capital outlay will be shortened.  However, we need to make sure that has no lasting impact on vine health, thus this study. Since I couldn’t find any other studies like it in the literature I decided to answer the question myself.  And soon, I will find out the results.  It is exciting!

Fire Ants in the Vineyard

Fire ants are just part of life here in the southern US.  They are everywhere, but most of the time if they are left alone you don’t have a problem.  Well, last week I couldn’t leave them alone — I had to get my grapevines in the ground.  What resulted is an ugly reminder of these invasive pests.  Although they these look painful they really don’t hurt all that much.  The primary issue is secondary infection, but if one keeps them clean then they heal up in a reasonable amount of time.  This link has really great information and photos on fire ant stings:  Below are some of my own wounds.

Fire Ant Stings on my Fingers

Fire Ant Stings on my Fingers

Multiple pustules on my arm courtesy of fire ants

Multiple pustules on my arm courtesy of fire ants


Dr. Blake Layton wrote a fact sheet on how to control fire ants in fruit operations, that link is here:

Muscadine Field Day Video

Did you miss the muscadine field day this year?  Not to worry, a short video from MSU Farmweek is now available that gives you a sneak peek.  I am featured in the video, as is Dr. Wayne Porter.  We both gave presentations at the event.   Speakers from USDA-ARS in Poplarville were also there to present.  You can see many of them in the video but they are not featured — I guess because they are not MSU-ES.

The video can be accessed at the link below:

And don’t forget to check out the rest of the 2012 muscadine field day info on this blog.  If you have any comments or questions I would be happy to hear from you.

Some Sources of Muscadine Information

Finding good information about growing muscadine grapes is difficult.  I put together a few good sources below.


Mississippi Fruit and Nut Blog:


Follow Dr. Stafne on Twitter: (@EStafne)


Establishment and Production of Muscadine Grapes:


Fruit and Nut Review – Muscadines:


Southeast Regional Muscadine Grape Integrated Management Guide:


Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium:


Overview of Muscadine Production:


Muscadine Grapes Book:

Southern Winegrapes

Is there potential for a winegrape industry in the Gulf Coast Region using interspecific hybrid bunch grapes?  Texas is trying to figure that out.  Fritz Westover, Viticulture Specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service (Texas A&M) has written some nice articles describing two of the most promising varieties — Blanc du Bois and Lenoir (also known as Black Spanish).  Blanc du Bois is a white grape and Lenoir is a red grape.  Both are tolerant of Pierce’s Disease, the major limiting factor in growing grapes in this region.  We have some Blanc du Bois in Stone County.  I noticed that this Spring it had some issues with Anthracnose (a fungal disease), but that can be controlled with fungicides (we are observing the vines so we are not spraying them at this time).  We have a few other varieties in the ground (some doing better than others) and plan to put some more in — including Blanc du Bois and Lenoir.

A Viticulture Resource

Interesting in growing grapes?  Do you know someone who is interested or is already doing it?  There is a resource out there will loads of information:

eViticulture is the sister site to the grape community of practice site in eXtension (  More than 70 viticulture and horticulture extension specialists from the U.S. and Canada are members of this community of practice.  Together, they have developed educational materials targeted at grape growers.  Go and check it out today.