Popular Muscadine Cultivars in North Carolina
Hundreds of named muscadine cultivars (or varieties) have been developed over the years. As varieties with better characteristics such as flavor, size, or yield are developed, they often replace older favorites. For example, besides being used as a common name for any bronze grape, “Scuppernong” is a very old variety selected from the wild along the Scuppernong River in North Carolina which has largely been superseded by modern cultivars. Varieties with wet stem scars, which tend to leak after they are picked are often replaced by those with dry stem scars for fresh market production. Self-fertile varieties are easier to manage than female varieties, which require a pollinator.
Some of the varieties most commonly grown in North Carolina are shown below, but many others are also grown. See a list of Muscadine cultivars recommended for NC production here.
Ninety to ninety-five percent of the commercial muscadine production in North Carolina is Carlos. Carlos is a vigorous, productive, self-fertile cultivar bred in North Carolina. Uniform ripening facilitates mechanical harvesting of this cultivar. Carlos is one of the most cold-tolerant cultivars when completely dormant in the winter.
Noble is the primary dark muscadine cultivar used in wine and juice production. It is a highly productive, vigorous, self fertile cultivar bred in North Carolina. Its small size and wet stem scar prevent its use for anything but processing. Noble is relatively cold tolerant.
Doreen is a self-fertile processing cultivar developed in North Carolina and used for wine and juic . It is highly vigorous and productive, producing flavorful “football-shaped” fruit.
Magnolia is also a self-fertile processing cultivar originating from a North Carolina cross. It is used primarily in wine and juice processing due to its wet stem scar. Magnolia is known for its uneven ripening. Magnolia is relatively cold tolerant.
Hall is a newer variety released by the UGA breeding program in 2014. It is self-fertile and early ripening. Hall berries have an excellent flavor and average 15.6% soluble solids.
Fry is a favorite U-pick muscadine cultivar developed in Georgia. ‘Fry’ is popular for its large berry size and good flavor, even when picked immature. It is a female cultivar with a wet stem scar, limiting its usefulness in the retail market. There are also Early Fry and Late Fry varieties.
Nesbitt is a large, black, self-fertile cultivar bred in North Carolina. Fruit ripens over a three-week period and is suitable for fresh marketing and home gardens. Skins can be tough, but flavor is excellent.
Supreme is a very large, black, female, fresh market cultivar from Ison’s Nursery in Georgia. Its large size and crisp, edible skin make it a favorite in consumer taste tests. This variety has the third greatest acreage of any variety grown in North Carolina.
Tara is a large, self-fertile cultivar developed in Georgia, similar in size and quality to Fry. It has good flavor, high sugar content, and a very dry stem scar. Tara is one of the top 5 fresh cultivars recommended in North Carolina.
Triumph is a self-fertile cultivar developed in Georgia. Berry color can have a pinkish hue .Fruit ripen early in the season and have good flavor, high sugar content, and “crunchy” pulp. Triumph is one of the top 5 fresh cultivars recommended in North Carolina.
New and Noteworthy
This is a seedless hybrid of muscadines and seedless table grapes (75% muscadine genetically). The sweet, crunchy, seedless grapes are small and are be picked as clusters rather than individually. RazzMatazz grapes are not much found in the market (yet?), but home gardeners can buy plants from several sources
Oh My! has full-sized, seedless, bronze-colored fruits with tender skins. For over 100 years grape breeders have attempted to develop muscadines that are seedless with easy-to-chew skins. Both this variety and RazzMatazz were developed by independent North Carolina grape breeder Jeff Bloodworth over a lifetime of work. Available for home garden planting, but watch for fruit as well.