Southern Home is a black interspecific hybrid muscadine and bunch grape that was released by J.A. Mortensen, J.W. Harris, D.L. Hopkins, and P.C. Andersen at the University of Florida in 1994 as an ornamental, dooryard grape for its vigor and unique leaf shape, resembling that of a maple leaf. It is also highly tolerant to many fungal diseases as well as Pierce’s disease, allowing for its adaptability to the southern United States. Additionally, it is an everbearing cultivar that produces ripe, uniform fruit from mid-August to October or November.
Origins and History
Southern Home is an interspecific hybrid grape with Vitis rotundifolia., V. munsoniana, V. popenoei, and V. vinifera in its lineage. It originated from the University of Florida grape breeding program at the Central Florida Research and Education Center in Leesburg, FL. A cross between Summit and Fla. P9-15 was made in 1979, and in 1984, it was selected for further trial as Fla. AA12-3. It was later released by J.A. Mortensen, J.W. Harris, D.L. Hopkins, and P.C. Andersen in 1994.
Southern Home vines have a semi-recumbent growth habit and are highly vigorous. Its maple-like leaves have deeply cut sinuses and average 10 centimeters in length by 11 centimeters in width. The abaxial surface is light green with slightly white pubescence, and the adaxial surface is a darker green. Tendrils are unbranched and discontinuous. They are also pigmented, as are petioles, abaxial leaf veins, and newly expanded shoots and leaves. Flowers are self-fertile, and clusters are moderately loose averaging 12 black, oval berries that weigh 6.8 grams each per cluster. These berries begin to uniformly ripen in mid-August, with a few later clusters that may ripen into October or November, and they typically adhere to the vine for longer periods than other muscadine cultivars. This vine also propagates readily from herbaceous cuttings and does not require grafting in well-drained soils.
Southern Home is highly tolerant to ripe rot (Glomerella cingulata (Stonem) Spaulding & Von Schrenk), bitter rot (Greeneria uvicola ((Berk. & M.A. Curtis) Punith.), black rot (Phyllosticta ampelicida (Engelm.) Aa), anthracnose (Elsinoe ampelina (de Bary) Shear), and downy mildew (Plasmospara viticola (B & C) Berl. & DeT.). Additionally, symptoms of Pierce’s disease (Xylella fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa Wells et al.) have not been observed in this cultivar. Insect tolerance is similar to that of other muscadines, and angular leaf spot (Mycosphaerella angulata Jenkins) may occur but only in small amounts. Thus, regular fungicidal and insecticidal spray programs are likely not needed, except in areas of extremely severe disease pressure.
Southern Home vines are grown throughout the southeastern United States in USDA cold hardiness zones 7 through 9. They are spur pruned, and they perform well when trained to either a single wire bilateral cordon or a Geneva double curtain with two bilateral cordons. They should be spaced 12 to 20 feet between vines and 10 to 16 feet between rows.
Due to its unstable color in unpasteurized juices, Southern Home may not be suitable as a wine cultivar. Though, it may be used for juice and jellies. As a fresh eating grape, it has been rated from moderate to more than acceptable by consumer panels, which may be due to its unique aromatic flavor that differs from a typical muscadine flavor. Additionally, it has a favorable flesh to seed ratio, and the pulp breaks up easily when chewed, much like Cowart or Albemarle. The soluble solids concentration is typically equal to or higher than other muscadines, and the picking scar is moderately dry. The main recommendations for this cultivar are dooryard or ornamental use for its unique leaf shape and vigor.