I ordered six muscadines of different varieties this past winter from Ison’s online nursery, and you can see that they have already grown to the top of the 5′ support and are spreading out along the wire! I ordered them dry root, and when they arrived during the end of winter, they were roughly 8″ not including the root.
Out of these, a couple did not survive, and I had to buy two replacements at the local nursery this spring. The varieties which I now have are Ison, Noble, Tara, and Southland. You can see that the basic idea is to trim down to one shoot, and then let this reach the top. Following this, you let one branch (cordon) go in each direction where it will have 20′ of wire (10′ in each direction) before encountering the next post. Any grapes which tried to form this year, I removed so that the energy of the plant would allow maximum growth. Supposedly, it takes about three years to have a good harvest, but at the rate these are growing (and being in Florida), I am betting on a decent first harvest next summer.
I basically have 120 feet of muscadine trellis, with 60 feet per row, 20 feet between posts and 10′ between the two rows. These are 4×4 pressure treated posts which are sunk 1′ into the ground and cemented. Because of the length of the rows, I decided not to implement complicated end supports (such as diagrammed on Ison’s site). The wire is #7 gauge aluminum which I bought in one of the home improvement centers in the fencing department. As you can see, I cut some supports to run the vines up on (I used tie down fasteners), and I only buried these in the ground a couple of inches and placed a notch in the top to catch the wire. As the weight of the harvest increases, this will also give some extra support to the wires. To secure the wires at the posts, I drilled a hole through the posts about 1.5″ down (most instructions simply nail the cable to the top of the post and that would work also).
In this picture, you can see that after pulling the wire as tight as possible, I fastened it to the end of the outside post using a V clamp. What I have between this clamp and the post is just a wood spacer with a hole drilled so that I had room to apply a wrench to the clamp nuts. As mentioned, this is a much simpler solution than other plans which I have found on the internet, but I am fairly confident that it will be of sufficient strength. If the cable were to start getting slack in it, I will merely pull it and re-secure the end clamp etc. Of course, you want to let the post concrete set completely and cover the post holes before stretching and attaching the wire. If your trellis ends up being longer than about 60′ feet, it might be advisable to design an end post support system such as shown on Ison’s website.
Here is a final picture showing how two shoots have been trained to split off from the support and travel in each direction along the wire. Basically, when the original single vine approaches the top, you just choose two growth shoots and keep trimming off the rest. Once the tendrils of these shoots get a hold of the wire, it’s off to the races. The next step once the vine travels along the wire, is to then trim so that only one shoot per about 3-4″ is allowed from the cordon (the main vines traveling out etc). However, I have not reached that part yet, and this is my first experience growing muscadines, so stay tuned. BTW, southern muscadines are incredibly healthy in that they have one the highest concentrations of resveratrol, quercetin, and other antioxidants. It is amazing that these muscadines have accomplished approximately 8′ of growth in about 7 months.
Comments and questions are appreciated!