Monday, November 21, 2011

A Time For Thanks

I was listening to a sermon this past weekend and I was given a new perspective for this time of year. The pastor made a point of how often we focus on the things that we do not have versus the things that we do have. His simple point was that if we had clothes on our back, a roof over our head and food in the pantry that we were truly blessed. These items mentioned are the basics for survival yet are often overlooked.
An old customer and dear friend called last week and asked “How was business?” For me it was a question I am often asked and my reply is usually the same: "We could be busier." He then asked about my health and my family's health and I said: "Everyone is doing fine." He replied “You are a rich man.” Then he told me a joke about how money can't buy health or happiness and asked if I heard about the guy who just bought a new Cadillac, my reply was “no I had not." He said: “Yeah, he has been riding around looking for happiness since he bought it.”
I am now going to take a moment and give thanks for the things and people in my life. I am thankful for having the opportunity each year to grow and sell plants, the opportunity each year to harvest fresh muscadines to sell to the public and the ability to do these things in still the greatest country in the world. I am thankful for the people who come to work for me every day and give me their best effort, whether it is 98 degrees outside or 18 degrees. I am thankful for my wife and my two precious children who always welcome me home with smiles and hugs. I am thankful for my mom, sisters and extended family. I am thankful for the freedoms of this country whether it is freedom of speech or freedom of religion.

I am thankful for our customers and the orders that they place with our company. I am thankful to our customers for referring our nursery to your friends and families. We are proud to be your source for muscadines, fruit trees, nut trees, and berry plants.

Our family and employees wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.
Greg Ison

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall Muscadine Maintenance

Muscadine vines are just about to finish the harvest for the season, but the work for the season is not over yet. There is still maintenance to be done until the vines go completely dormant. Hopefully following these tips will ensure a productive harvest for 2012.

1. This time of year the vines are exhausted from ripening the season's harvest, in years past the accepted watering schedule for vines in the fall was to stop irrigating once the harvest was over. The mind set was to stop watering so the vines would harden off and be prepared for winter. In my opinion this is one of the most harmful things a grower can do. After harvest we want to keep as much stress off the vines as possible, if the weather is warm and dry and we stop irrigating we are putting stress on a vine that has been under pressure from the ripening of the fruit. During the months of October and November we recommend continuing to irrigate at a rate of 8 to 10 gallons of water per week if the weather conditions are warm and dry. If we are getting adequate rainfall then irrigation is not necessary. Once the vines have dropped their leaves then irrigation should not be resumed until the spring of 2012.

2. Removal of fruit.
Any fruit left hanging on the vine that will not be harvested should be removed.  If left on the vine the fruit will rot or mummify (become raisin like) on the vine. This rotting fruit can lead to a build up of disease over the winter and will be present in the spring. If you do not remove the fruit you will have much more disease pressure such as ripe rot or macrophema rot that can affect next years harvest.

Many vines will also have what are called "shot berries", these are grapes that get about as big as a dime and are green and will not ripen on the vine. They are the product of the vine either trying to set a second crop or late blooms being pollinated but do not have enough time allowed for the ripening of the fruit. Any green or shot berries should also be removed this time of year.

3. This is a great time of year to apply pre-emergent herbicides if you choose. Simazine can be used this time of year for control of annual broadleaf weeds and some annual grasses. By applying a fall pre-emergent herbicide it will lower the amount of weeds the following spring. Always follow labeling instructions prior to application.

4. Do not prune too early.  For years we pruned our vines beginning after the Thanksgiving Holiday. But through trial, error and experience we have found the best time to prune muscadine vines is from mid January to mid March. We have found that a vine that has not been pruned can handle colder temperatures or big swing in temperatures better than a vine that has been pruned. In general we experience our coldest temperatures from late December-January, by pruning later we are giving our plants a better chance of coming through the winter with little or no cold weather damage.

5. If you are using the blue x plant shelters and your vines have reached the top wire, now is the ideal time to remove the shelters.

On a planting report we have a beautiful crop of muscadine vines this year, so if you are thinking about adding a few vines or considering planting some acreage now is a good time to begin getting your orders in.  Take advantage of the Early Bird Discount by ordering before November 15th.  The all new 2012 Catalog will be available later today on our website - check it out or request one to be mailed to you.

I hope these tips will ensure an abundant crop for 2012.

Happy Planting!
 Greg Ison

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fall Into Planning Your
Fruit Trees and Berry Plants  

Fall is my favorite time of year.  Mainly because I am a muscadine man (always have been) and September is the prime month of harvest of my beloved grape. They say Christmas only comes around once a year and the same can be said of muscadines, there is nothing I look more forward to than eating the first grape of the season and the saddest is eating the last one for the harvest season. Fall is also another time of year where the persimmons, apples, jujubes, pears, and pomegranates grace our presence with their arrival.. The coolness of the mornings, the gradual leaf color change, and the sound of college campuses fill the air with the arrival of Fall

Fall is also an ideal time to begin the planning of your next yard or orchard project.  The location is the first thing to consider. Remember that most fruit trees and plants thrive in areas that receive full sun. If you do not have an area that gets full sun you can still plant just try to find an area that gets as much sun as possible and preferably the morning and mid afternoon sun. The plants and trees will still bring fruit, it may just not be as abundantly as a full sun location                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
The second planning step is to check your soil ph. Most fruit plants and trees like a ph in the 6.0-6.8 range except for blueberry bushes which like a more alkaline soil with a ph range from 4.5-5.2. You can readily test your soil with a soil kit or more accurately take a sample to your county extension sevice for a complete analysis.  The most important thing to consider is that it takes 3-4 months to begin raising or lowering your ph, however you may go ahead and plant you just want to make sure the ph level is correct by the time the plant or tree reaches fruit bearing age.  

The third planning step is to amend the soil if necessary. Soil ranges anywhere from a hard clay to a sandy soil which should be amended prior to planting, We offer the soil perfector soil amendment that permanently improves the soil, promotes deep roots, and improves heavy clay soils and dry sandy soils by adding aeration and moisture retention. If your soil is in good shape simple adding some potting mix or peat moss in the planting hole should work sufficiently.                                                          

The fourth step and most important is the hole preparation. My father use to tell me not to be a ten dollar tree in a ten cent hole. Of course with inflation prices have gone up but the saying holds true. The hole is the foundation for that plant the rest of its life, and getting the plant off to a good healthy start begins with the shovel.                                                                                                                                                                                    
I hope that these planning steps get you excited for the upcoming planting season. With the fall and winter ahead of us it gives us the opportunity for a new planting with the anticipation of bud break and spring blooms to follow. As always if you need any assistance choosing the perfect plant for your location give us a call we will be happy to assist with all of your planting needs.

Happy Planting                                                      
Greg Ison

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Heat, Humidity & the Muscadine

This current growing season has been as extreme as I can remember in years past. As cold as we were this winter, we have been just as hot this summer. Our excessive heat began in early May and lasted until the 3rd week in June before we received any kind of break in the temperatures. We had 26 straight days of 90 + temperatures, weather we normally do not see until mid July through August. So what does this mean for muscadines? The ideal weather for muscadines in the bloom period is warm days and some what dry, when temperatures are cooler, excessive cloud cover, or rainy days the pollen does not transfer as well from bloom to bloom. This year we went to the extreme of excessive dry weather with exceptional heat, so these conditions leads to blooms drying up on the vine before pollination occurs thus leading to below average or poor fruit set. Unfortunately even with drip irrigation when weather conditions are this severe there is not a lot one can do to prevent the blooms from burning up or the lack of pollination.
On vines that are 4 years old and older the water requirements during the year go up as the the temperatures go up.
In April 8-10 gallons per week, May and June 12-18 gallons per week, July and August 18-26 gallons per week, September 12-18 gallons per week, October 8-10 gallons per week, November (if warm and dry) 6-8 gallons of water.
We would like to hear how your grape crop is this year.

Greg Ison

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Muscadine Grape

To get things started on this blog, here is a bit of history on the muscadine grape.

What is a Muscadine Grape?
Muscadine grapes are native to the southeastern United States. Muscadines ripen from late July through mid October. They will often be on the vine until the first fall frost comes. They are large, thick-skinned and seeded grapes that grow in small, loose clusters and are often harvested as individual berries. They can be bronze, red or black in color. And they are sooooo delicious! A true southern treat. Georgia is the largest grower of muscadines with about 1200 acres in production. North Carolina is a close second.

The History of the Muscadine
Muscadines, known as American wild grapes, are native to the Southeastern United States, and thus well adapted to the warm, humid conditions of the region. The muscadine grape was discovered in America in 1584 by the early English explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh. Later a golden bronze colored muscadine was found along the Scuppernong river in North Carolina and thus was named "scuppernong." Through the years, these wonderful tasting grapes, have developed numerous nicknames such as bullis, southern grapes and swamp grapes.

Though long a favorite of southerners for their sweet, fruity taste (muscadines make a delicious, nutritious snack straight from nature), recent research reveals that muscadines contain high levels of resveratrol. Resveratrol is one of the compounds in red wine which is believed to help reduce the risk of abnormal cells and heart disease. Muscadines are high in vitamin C and ellagic acid. Muscadines also contain potassium, vitamin B, and trace minerals.

Though they still grow wild, most of today's muscadines and scuppernongs are grown in commercial vineyards. Harvest season is typically August through mid-October.

The History of the Muscadine Name
Where did the name muscadine originate? When the early settlers arrived in America, they were familiar with the Muscat grape, which is a French grape that is used in making muscatel wine. And the word muscat derives from the Latin muscus, which describes the smell of a male musk deer. The early settlers called the sweet, musk-scented wild grapes that they found here by the same name as the sweet grapes they had known in Europe, and that eventually became muscadine.
Is it a Muscadine or a Scuppernong?
One of the most common questions we are asked is….What is the difference between a muscadine and a scuppernong ? Many people in fact consider any bronze muscadine to be a “scuppernong” But this is actually not true.

How to Eat a Muscadine
To eat a muscadine, place the grape with the stem scar facing upward in your mouth and squeeze or bite the grape. The pulp and juice will burst through the thick skin into your mouth. The skin can then be removed from your mouth and discarded and the seeds can then also be discarded or simply swallowed. Many love to eat the skin as well.


Welcome to the all new Ison's Nursery Blog. This will be a great way for us to share news, information, growing tips and special offers with you. We have been growing muscadines for many many years, In fact, we are told that we are the largest growers of muscadines in the world.

Thanks for visiting!
Greg, Darlene and Janet