Florida has three vineyards, one in Ft. Pierce, Leesburg and Monticello.
Grapes belong to the Vitaceae family of plants. The family contains approximately 12 genera and 500 species. Grapes of the commercial types are grouped in the genus Vitis; they are considered woody vines climbing by tendrils, the leaves are alternate, they are simple or compound, stipulated flowers are bisexual or unisexual, actinomorphic and borne in cymes opposite the leaves. Sepals, petals and stamens are 4-5 in number with the ovary being superior. The fruit is a berry. Some of the cultivated genera include: Ampelopsis, Cissus, Parthenocissus, Rhoicissus, Tetrastigma and Vitis.
Of all the fruits grown in America, grapes seem to be the most widely adapted to varying soils and climates. Our first settlers found grapes growing from the coast of Maine to Florida and inland to the Rockies. The cultivars of the Old World grape, Vitis vinifera, are extensively grown in California and Arizona. Today, California produces approximately 90% of the commercial grape crop. The muscadine grape, V. rotundifolia, is grown in the cotton belt of this country and is more suitable for warm climates, and is one of the grape species most resistant to Phylloxera, an insect that can kill roots of grapevines.
Various problems do occur in grape culture, for example; Grape seed chalcid, grape flea beetle, grape leaf hopper, grape root borer. Pierce's disease bacterium, along with anthracnose usually develop in the springtime. Pierce's disease can be a severe problem; recently new adaptive cultivars that are resistant to the disease have been developed. Resistant cultivars include: 'Lake Emerald', 'Blue Lake', 'Norris'. 'Stover'. 'Liberty', and 'Dixie'.
Weed control is a necessity in any organized planting of grapes. Weed control can be accomplished by several methods; mulching, hand hoeing, or with minimal herbicide use.
Some self-fertile muscadine grapes include:
Black: 'Chief', 'Cowart', 'Albemarie', 'Margoon', 'Southland'.
Bronze: 'Carlos', 'Dearing' , 'Welder', 'Magnolia'.
Production of 'Cowart', 'Dixie', 'Welder' and 'Noble' have been shown to be superior to most all other grapes grown in Florida. 'Noble' is the highest of all in yield capacity. Some of the best tasting muscadines include 'Fry', 'Summit', 'Watergate' and 'Sugargate'.
DATE: May 1989
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