Muscadine – Pruning

Q: I have inherited the care of some unpruned muscadines. How do I re-train these vines for optimal production?

A: Go to your muscadine vines and hold one of the long, whip-like, sprangly branches that grew last year. Follow it back to its origin. Observe that there are distinct bumps along the stem: the buds. Note the first two buds that grew on the limb after it began growth: cut the vine a quarter-inch beyond the second bud. Throw the resulting severed branch on the ground behind you and repeat the process until all of last year’s limbs have been reduced to several “staghorn” spurs along the main vine. Vigorous new growth will come from these spurs and grapes will grow near the base of each one. Don’t obsess about the process; muscadines are able to recover from any mistaken cuts you make. I have pictures at http://www.walterreeves.com/food-gardening/muscadine-and-scuppernong-pruning/.