Plants of recommended cultivars are either female or self-fertile (perfect flowered). The female cultivars must be interplanted with self-fertile flowering cultivars for pollination. If a majority of female flowered cultivars (such as ‘Fry’ or ‘Summit’) are going to be used in the vineyard, several arrangements should be considered:
1. A minimum of every fourth row self-fertile across the vineyard starting with the outside row, or
2. A minimum of every third plant self-fertile in every third row. Harvesting and marketing are most convenient if you arrange your vineyard in single cultivar rows but currently few or no self-fertile cultivars have the proven marketability of ‘Fry’.
Recent research at the Georgia Experiment Station in Griffin has indicated that ‘Cowart’ and ‘Carlos’ are two of the best pollinizer cultivars to plant with ‘Fry’. ‘Southland’, ‘Magnolia’, and ‘Nesbitt’ do not appear to be good pollinizer cultivars for ‘Fry’. Always consult your county Extension agent to find out if new cultivars have been released since the printing of this publication. It is very likely the cultivar recommendations will be changing as new cultivars are introduced and our knowledge about existing cultivars increases.
Fruit set of female flowered cultivars can be a major problem in some years. Muscadine pollen is transferred by several species of tiny bees and perhaps also by wind. The most efficient pollinator is thought to be the small miner bee. Unfortunately these tiny bees do not appear to be found in large numbers. Do not spray insecticides during the bloom period if possible. As a consequence of low pollinator numbers, fruit set on female cultivars can be extremely low in some years (<10%). Self-fertile cultivars seldom have problem with fruit set since the pollen need only be transferred a fraction of an inch to reach the stigmatic surface on the female portion of the flower. A number of female cultivars have a problem know as dry calyptra or cap stick. Muscadine flowers have petals which are fused at the top and pop off the flowers like a shower cap. There is currently no proven control for this problem, but operating an air blast sprayer in the vineyard with no water in the sprayer may be beneficial in removing some of the sticking caps.