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Muscadine Vineyard Over-Production

Are your vines producing too much fruit, yes there is such a thing.

On ideal bloom conditions or on some varieties of muscadines the vines can over crop or over produce themselves. In my opinion I believe the ideal fruit load is around 60 pounds per vine, if your vine has more fruit than this you could be headed for trouble.

Ways to identify over production

1. By evaluating your crop, if the clusters are just loaded up everywhere on the vine from one end to the other chances are they are overproducing

2. If you say to yourself, “Man, there is a lot of fruit on this vine”, chances are you are over cropping

3. If you do not have a lot of side growth, and there is a lot of fruit on the vine chances are you are going to over crop

If your vines are producing too much fruit what can happen

1. If the vines become stressed from over production they will try and protect themselves by dropping fruit, the problem is they do not know how much fruit to drop and many times the entire fruit load will be lost

2. If the vines do not drop fruit, sometimes during the harvest the plant will drop its leaves. The vine will lose its leaves and then any fruit that has not ripened will hang on the vine and never ripen. The leaves are working so hard to ripen the fruit they exhaust themselves and shed off.

3. Sometimes the vines can over crop and still ripen the fruit but because the vines were so stressed during harvest the following year they will produce little or no fruit.. This is called bi – annual production, we see this is persimmons and pecans all the time. The plants work load during harvest was too great and it goes into a season of rest the following year, many time the growth in the spring is distorted or irregular shaped leaves. After the season of rest the vines will normally go back into normal production

4. The vines are so stressed and weak headed into the winter months they become vulnerable to cold weather injury, which can lead to main arm dieback or vine loss to cold injury.

Solutions

1. In the past we would try to control over production by thinning the fruiting spurs further apart during our winter pruning. This technique works well, the only down side is if we have less than ideal conditions during bloom and we do not have a good fruit set we have decreased our crop that much more by the removal of additional fruiting wood.

2. Preferable shortly after fruit set, any vines that appear to have over cropped we will hand remove up to 20 cluster per vine. The earlier in the summer the fruit is removed the better, thus allowing the vine to only focus on the fruit remaining on the vine. We will start on one end of the main arm and worked our way down the vine randomly pulling green clusters off, if a side lateral has multiple clusters of fruit we will always remove the cluster the furthest away from the main arm.

The following muscadine varieties are the most likely to over crop.
1. Supreme
2. Granny Val
3. Pineapple

However, any given year any variety can over crop and you should always pay attention to self fertile varieties since they max their crop out every year.

I would rather have a vine that produces 60 pounds of fruit for 25 years, versus a vines that produces 100 pounds of fruit one season and then struggles the next year.

Let’s Grow Together
Greg Ison
isons.com

Vineyard Floor Management

The vineyard floor consists of the area that is on the ground directly under the main arm of the vine and has a width of about 24 inches. Muscadines have shallow roots that are typically 8-12 inches below ground level and run parallel to the top wire about 5 feet on either side of the trunk. The ideal vineyard floor would be absent of grass and weeds in order to eliminate the competition for soil moisture and nutrients. If every drop of moisture and every ounce of fertilizer goes straight to the plant it will lead to a happier and healthier vine.

Ways to maintain the vineyard floor

1. The most common approach is the use of herbicides such as round-up or paraquat. Herbicides are absorbed through tender vegetation or leaves on plants. If you have new plants in the ground less than a year we recommend using either jumpstarts or blue x plants shelters for herbicide protection. On new plants there is a lot of leaves and tender growth low to the ground and the use of plant shelters will protect the young growth from unwanted spray contact or spray drift.

If the vines are 2 years and older usually the trunk area has a mature bark absent of tender vegetation and you can safely spray herbicides across the bark of the trunk with no threat of harming the vine.

Common herbicides used in the vineyard

A. Round-up is a systemic product which is absorbed into the root system and will usually kill any unwanted grass or weeds.

An average growing season will usually involve 4 round up applications for control of the vineyard floor. Once in early spring, once in late spring, once mid summer, and the last spray late summer or early fall. If we have a wet growing season an additional application may be needed

B. Paraquat – this is a restricted use herbicide that is a contact herbicide, it will burn down any growth it comes in contact with but is not absorbed into the root system. We will usually make one paraquat application early summer for control of morning glory’s, round up is not effective on contol of morning glory’s.

C. Poast – herbicide that will give marginal control of grasses and can come in contact with tender vegetaion on the muscadine vine with no negative impact. Ideally this product is applied when grassed are 2-4 inches tall and multiple applications are needed for control.

***   Make sure to NEVER use 2-4-D ***

Always read labeling to make sure grapes are listed as a crop the herbicide can be used on

2. Landscape fabric or weed barrier. This product is a woven fabric that can be laid down on the ground to prevent grass and weed competition. I would recommend using this product if you did not want to use herbicides and would place a 24 inch wide strip under the row covering 5 feet on either side of the trunk. Landscape fabric or weed barrier will allow moisture and fertilizers to pass through the fabric while preventing grass and weed competition. You may mulch on top of the fabric with either pine straw or other aged pine bark materials.

Other thoughts to consider.

If you are weed eating or cutting the grass under the row you are not eliminating the grass and weeds and the vine is still having to compete for water and nutrients.

If you are bringing in a 6-8 inch layer of mulch under the main arm you can promote surface roots. The muscadine roots will actually want to grow up out of the ground and into the mulch layer and if we have hard winter temperatures or hard freezes you can get root damage.

Let’s Grow Together
Greg Ison
isons.com

Grow The Best Blueberries

Blueberries are one of the easiest fruiting crops to grow, but a little local knowledge can allow you to grow the best blueberries ever. Follow these recommendation to allow your blueberry plants to flourish.

1. Blueberries like a low ph, 4.2-4.6 is the best ph level for the plants. If your soil has not been farmed or maintained chances are your ph is around 5.5. We have to make it more acidic, the easiest ways are the following. Add peat moss or potting soil in the hole at planting, both of those mediums run a ph in the 4.5 range, secondly you can add about 4 ounces of sulfur in a 15 inch circle around the plants, apply 4 ounces 3 times the first year once in February, July, and October. You may also mulch with pine straw.

2 Blueberries are sensitive to fertilizer. If you over fertilize or if the fertilizer releases too quickly it will cause a condition called Chlorosis. Chlorosis is a yellowing in the leaves caused by a salt build up, the only way to overcome Chlorosis is over time when salt levels are reduced in the plant. We recommend to use either our Isons Blueberry Fertilizer, 10-10-10, or an Osmocote Slow Release 14-14-14. If you use our fertilizer or the 10-10-10 apply only 4 ounces per application made on April 1st, July 1st, and August 15th. Keep the fertilizer away from the plant at least 15 inches. If you use the Osmocote Slow Release fertilizer apply 6 ounces on each of the following dates mentioned above.

3. Do not allow plants to fruit the first year, either remove the blooms or the fruit once it appears. By not allowing plants to fruit the first year, all the plants energy will go to the growth of the plant and will allow for greater harvest the 2nd year.

4. Blueberries love mulch, we recommend adding 1-2 inches of mulch per year around the plants. Make sure you use aged pine bark mulch or a potting soil, if you use mulch that is too fresh and you can smell the greenness in the wood you will harm your plants.

5. Make sure to plant at least 2 different varieties, most blueberries will produce on their own but yields are greater when 2 different varieties are used in the planting.

6. Plant spacing should be 5-6 feet apart, I like 6 feet the best and if you have multiple rows I like 12 foot row spacing. Remember you do not have to have the plants in a straight line, you can create an island just as you would for roses or azaleas. You can plant them in pyramid shapes or zig- zag, keep the spacing 6 feet apart, and use pine straw to mulch the entire island.

Let’s Grow Together
Greg Ison isons.com

Spraying for Disease and Insects in the Vineyard

 
The primary diseases that affect muscadines are Black Rot, Ripe Rot, and Powdery Mildew. The primary insects are Japanese Beatles, Aphids, and leaf-hoppers. When managing the vineyard we should think preventive versus reactive, it is easier to prevent diseases and insects versus reacting to disease pressure and insect pressure.
 
Follow these guidelines to ensure healthy vines and high quality fruit.
 
1. We make our first application when the vines have new growth that is 6-8 inches in length. We apply .4 ounces of captan fungicide and .4 ounces of liquid sevin or malathion per gallon of water. We add a surfactant but the home gardener can add a squirt or two of dish washing liquid such as Dawn or Ivory. We are making a light mist application to the leaves, if the application is-dripping off the leaves you are applying too much.
 
2. We repeat this application about 10 days after the first application, this should give us two application prior to bloom.
 
3. During the bloom period I prefer not to spray, some commercial growers do but I prefer the bloom period to be as natural as possible.
 
4. Once the bloom period is over and I see marble size fruit I will make my 3rd application at the same rates as the previous sprays, when fruit is present these are considered cover sprays
 
5. My 4th spray is 10-14 days after the previous spray at the same rate.
 
6. Depending on weather conditions my last spray is usually about two weeks prior to harvest once harvest begins we no longer make spray applications.
 
In my opinion the early sprays are most important because we are preventing disease versus reacting to disease.  If we have a dry spring and summer you may not have too spray as often but if we have a lot of rain you need to follow the above schedule.
 
We offer a full line of fungicides and insecticides that will keep your vines healthy and your fruit beautiful.

Muscadine Harvest Season

The Harvest Has Began

We started picking muscadines this morning much like we have for the last 83 years. For the most part things have not changed much, we still hand pick all the fruit and we always hope for the best and pick the rest.

The varieties that are ripening first are the Early Fry, Ison, and Lane. The early season varieties allow us to begin picking earlier and start generating income while we wait for the other varieties to ripen.

The muscadine season is a relatively short harvest time so if we can began harvesting fruit a week earlier it gives us a week of income that we otherwise would not have. On average we will harvest muscadines for about 10 weeks, some years a little longer and some a little shorter depending on the weather and fruit load.

This year we are running about an 85% full crop, the reason we are not at a 100% crop is due to weather conditions during the bloom and the fact last year was such a heavy crop that the vines did not set quite a full crop this year.

We will beginning shipping muscadine grapes from our vineyard to your home beginning in about 2 weeks, we harvest the fruit fresh and can ship in 4 quart quantities or 8 quart quantities. The quart clam-shell is similar to the container that strawberries are sold in at your local grocery store.

Of all the fruits available throughout the year muscadines are one of the few that are only available for a short window of time, so if you would like to order fruit try and get your order in as soon as possible. Muscadines are like Christmas, they only come around once a year. Order yours today 

 

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