Sunday, January 15, 2017
Training Mulberry To Weeping Form
I double-checked the plant info and sure enough Illinois Everbearing mulberries can grow to over 35 feet tall! Fruit is produced on new growth, so I didn't want to just lop off overly long new branches to keep its height in check.
The strategy I decided to try was training it to a 'weeping' form. I took plastic bags and added a handful of gravel to each bag, and then attached the bag to the end of a branch with plant clips.
A newly sprouted branch is still green and flexible, and as it ages over a season firms up to a more woody state.
Here you can see the form after the first year of weighting down the branches - it definitely has a weeping instead of vertical form!
Hopefully this will make the fruit much easier to harvest.
I plan to thin out older branches to encourage new fruit-bearing shoots each year. The idea is to start a cycle of fruit harvest from last year's growth, training the current year's growth to a weeping form, and then in the winter pruning out the previous season's branches. This should ensure a heavy crop each year.
Before seeing how fast a mulberry grows this would probably strike me as unrealistically ambitious. Now I think this will just keep up with it's amazing growth rate!
I can't wait to see what the crop will be like this coming year. We got 2 berries last year.