Thomas E. Eltzroth
Strong-growing vines of great beauty, grapes provide shade, privacy screens, and delicious fruit for eating fresh, preserving, or wine making.
Grapes fall into three major classes, and there are numerous hybrids between classes as well.
American grapes are slipskin grapes of the 'Concord' type. Hardy to well below 0 degrees F/-18 degrees C, they grow in much of the United States, but they don't thrive in the Deep South.
In the Deep South, the grape of choice is the muscadine, which bears large fruit in small clusters. Muscadine grapes don't succeed where winter lows dip below 0 degrees F/-18 degrees C.
European grapes generally need high heat in summer; they're hardy to around 0 degrees F/-18 degrees C. These include table grapes such as 'Thompson Seedless' and 'Flame', as well as classic wine grapes.
Some muscadine varieties require cross-pollination. All American and European grapes are self-fertile.
Planting and care
When planting American and European grapes, leave 8 to 10 feet between plants in all directions. Give muscadines even more room ― at least 12 feet between plants and 20 feet between rows. After planting, cut the stems of all kinds back to two or three buds to promote deep rooting and the growth of a strong cane for the future trunk.
Pests and diseases
In some areas, grape leafhopper and grape mealybug infest vines. Check with your Cooperative Extension Office for controls. Powdery mildew is a serious disease of European grapes (most American grapes are immune).