[NAFEX] pruning mulberries to a weep

David Consolvo fruitopia at firstva.com
Thu Jun 4 20:45:58 EDT 2009

I've eventually done similarly with my mulberries, albeit with just the summer 
pruning.  They are SOOO vigorous, I have to cut the heck out of the vertical parts 
of the tree.  I end up getting very long horizontal-ish branches with lots of 
mulberries within reach.
~David Consolvo
Hungrytown, Virginia

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: Alan Haigh <alandhaigh at gmail.com>
Reply-To: North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date:  Thu, 4 Jun 2009 05:57:34 -0400

>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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