Farm Focus: Mulberry Pruning
In March of 2018 we planted 600 mulberry trees in order to add more diversity and deliciousness to our late spring boxes. As members, you've likely learned by now that we are busy year round caring for our trees. Last week we had Janet Caprile a crop advisor from UC Extension evaluate our young trees and give us recommendations for optimizing their growth.
We learned that Mulberries need to be pruned differently than our other trees. When cut, Mulberry trees will "bleed" more than most trees. Because of this, it is recommended to only prune branches less than two inches in diameter to prevent the plant from "bleeding" to death. Luckily, we haven't missed the window to begin pruning our Mulberries.
We prune all of our trees annually, primarily in the fall and winter months in order to open up the center of the tree so the internal branches receive optimal sunlight and aeration. However, we learned we need to set up a different pruning program for our Mulberries. Janet recommends we prune the Mulberries two times per year, once right after harvest and then again in the winter.
The Mulberry are an extremely vigorous tree that grow tall rapidly. Many people plant them for shade or privacy because they are so fast growing. Pruning the trees right after harvest will increase horizontal budwood growth, so the trees will grow out in addition to up. Winter pruning will serve the same purpose as it does for our other trees, opening up the tree to air and sunshine.
With our effort to diversify our orchard, we have a lot to learn about the unique needs of our new varieties of fruit. We are up to the challenge and will share what we are learning with you as we go.