Sunday, January 15, 2017

Training Mulberry To Weeping Form

I have never seen a mulberry tree before, and so I was not prepared for how vigorously it started to grow this past summer.  I could see it was going to pretty much instantly out-grow the space I allotted for it.  Uh oh!

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.

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