[NAFEX] pruning mulberries to a weep

Alan Haigh alandhaigh at gmail.com
Thu Jun 4 05:57:34 EDT 2009

It occurred to me to prune mulberries this way because it is the standard
approach in maintaining oversized very old apple trees.  It's about the only
way to maintain huge apple trees productively without a lot of fuss so I
tried it on mulberries.

I've only been doing it for 6 or 7 years and only 3 trees have been under
this approach for that time so I make no claim of being a mulberry managing
expert.  Right now I have about a dozen IE mulberries that I take care of
and I'm now pruning them all to this shape because it looks beautiful and
keeps a lot of fruit within reach.

It doesn't work quite as well with mulberries as apples because the fruit is
too light to bend branches downward and I haven't quite gotten into it
enough to use weights or string tied to a lower point, which would probably
work real well.  I use the weight of the wood itself which will bend down if
strong upward growth is removed and they grow out far enough.

I prune once in the winter and once in the summer after the tree has mostly
stopped fruiting.  The summer pruning is to remove all the most vigorous
upward water-sprout type wood.  I always leave all the living smaller
wood.  I begin to prune the trees this way once they get around 12 to 15
feet high.  I try to keep them within about a 15' spread and 15' height at
the smallest.  My own tree has about a 20' spread, and I will give it some
more room just because I like having a lot of fruit.  Even with lots of
birds feeding on it there's still plenty for me but I could see someone
wanting to net a tree so they could harvests buckets.

I create a dome where most of the wood gets plenty of light just as I do
with apple trees.  This keeps the fruit big and the harvests concentrated in
a smaller area.

Mulberries create a great site to shoot squirrels early in the season, by
the way.

"Alan, how tall are the mulberries when you prune them to weep, and how tall
do they end up?  I assume we're talking winter pruning."
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