Mulberry - planting and care - TIPS AND REVIEWS
Almost every gardener at least once asked about the features of growing mulberries and caring for its plantings. Today we answer these questions.
What mulberry seedlings to buy: grafted or seedlings?
White mulberry is usually a monoecious, rarely dioecious plant. This means that during seed propagation, part of the seedlings will be with female flowers and yield fruit, and some with male flowers, they will be infertile. And only a very small part of the obtained seedlings will have female and male flowers on one plant, bear fruit without pollinators. These are the so-called self-fertile trees. What exactly will grow during the seed propagation of mulberry is unknown. Seedlings enter the period of fruiting (flowering) late, only from the 5-6th year. Until this time it is impossible to determine whether the seedling will bear fruit.
Even if the grown seedling will bear fruit, there is no guarantee that it will inherit the varietal characteristics of the parent plants. That is, with seed propagation of mulberry, you can get giant trees (15–20 m high) shallow-growing and low-yielding. Perhaps you are lucky and quite worthy trees will grow. In the worst case, it can be barren trees, “shovkuns,” which are necessary for pollination of females.
The grafted seedlings are grown by grafting with a cuttings or budding on 2-, 3-year-old mulberry seedlings. The vaccination site is clearly visible. Such seedlings have thicker shoots. But mulberry varieties should be approached very carefully, especially if they are intended for industrial cultivation. Many varieties have low winter hardiness, the fruits are very soft, non-transportable.
You can’t transport them far - they will flow, you can’t use them for freezing. In cold-winding mulberry trees, annual growths almost completely freeze during cold winters; they remain without crops, especially in the lowlands. The next year, due to “absenteeism”, they give thick growths with a length of 2, 0-2, 5 m, their wood matures poorly, the crown thickens, and the trees simply produce vegetative mass. They are very difficult to trim. Therefore, the selection of varieties is very important not only for obtaining a high-quality mulberry crop, but also for the possibility and expediency of its cultivation.
It is very important that the grafted varieties of mulberry are self-fertile or grown in the same stand as self-fertile varieties.
As a result of the selection of varieties for the industrial cultivation of mulberry, we left only winter-hardy self-fertile varieties with large transportable and tasty fruits.
Does mulberry need watering?
When planting trees, watering is mandatory, at the rate of 15-20 liters of water per tree. In the first year of cultivation, especially on light soils with a deep occurrence of groundwater, it is advisable to water the trees several times a season during the dry season. In subsequent years, watering is not necessary, because mulberry is a very drought-resistant culture, develops a powerful root system. But this is true if seedlings are grown in rainfed conditions, without watering. We have long abandoned drip irrigation in our nursery. Seedlings grown in irrigated nurseries are more sensitive to lack of moisture in the soil at the place of their constant growth in the plantation.
An important point: mulberry is one of the few garden crops that can withstand slight salinization of the soil.
Where is it best to plant mulberry trees?
For mulberry need to choose a sunny place. The varieties we grow have a low but sprawling crown. Therefore, the minimum distance between trees is 7-8 m. Mulberry is not very demanding on soils. But the quality and quantity of the fruit crop substantially depends on the fertility of the soil.
When do varietal seedlings enter the fruiting season? What is the yield of trees?
Mulberry - the culture is very early. It is necessary to pick off its fruits already in the nursery, when growing seedlings. That is, immediately after the spring planting of seedlings, in June, you will see the first fruits. We recommend picking them off, since the fruits are not yet marketable, do not correspond to varietal characteristics, and are small.
Nevertheless, the plant spends a lot of energy on them, and weak seedlings can greatly lag behind in growth, the maturation of annual wood is significantly inhibited. This is important to understand, since winter hardiness, especially in the first years of life of trees, even highly winter-resistant mulberry varieties, directly depends on the maturation of annual wood. In subsequent years, fruit yield is regulated only by pruning.
The mulberry yield is amazing. For example, the variety Nadezhda enters the stage of industrial fruiting already in the third year after planting, that is, it becomes economically feasible to collect fruits for sale.
At the age of five, 30-40 kg of fruits can be collected from a single mulberry tree. From 7-12-year-old mulberry trees of the self-fertile varieties Nadezhda and Velikan, we collected 70-141 kg of fruits for sale and left about 20% of the crop for our needs. In 2019, we collected 11 kg of fruit from 13–160-year-old mulberry trees of the Nadezhda and Velikan varieties, each 5033 from each of the early Nadezhda trees and 4678 from the late Velikan. Only 2 a year was dry. 3 from the average long-term indicators (326 mm in 2019, the average long-term over the past 20 years - 515 mm). Trees grow without watering.
Is it possible to grow mulberries next to other garden crops?
The mulberry is reconciled with any neighbors, if only they would not obscure it. The distance between mulberry trees and other trees should be the same 7-8 m. It is extremely undesirable to plant shrubs under mature trees. They interfere with the harvest of mulberries. After all, the fruits of both the Giant and Hope can not only be picked by hand, but also shaken off on fabric previously spread on the ground.
Does mulberry need protection from pests and diseases?
In our nursery and garden, we switched to organic farming in 2011. There were no problems with mulberry over the past years. During this time, we only twice mechanically removed and destroyed several leaves in the micro-foci of damage by an American white butterfly.
When choosing a place for growing mulberries, one should take into account the location of the plot, the peculiarities of the microrelief, soil and climatic conditions, etc. It is important on which rootstock the seedlings are grown, in what conditions (rainfed or drip irrigation). All this determines the technology of cultivation and selection of varieties. When creating industrial plantings of mulberry, it is advisable to consult with specialists, because the mistakes made when laying the garden, for the most part, cannot be fixed.
See also: Planting and growing mulberry
Mulberry - Planting and Care: VIDEO
© Authors: Liliya YAKHIMOVICH, Alexander YAKHIMOVICH, Candidate of Agricultural Sciences,
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