Growing and Harvesting Mulberries

Growing and harvesting mulberries is an easy project for any family or small farm operation.  The berries are readily eaten upon harvest, or turned into various foods and drinks, from desserts to wine.  The following information will help you grow and harvest mulberries in the United States, as well as abroad where growing conditions allow.

Mulberry Trees

A variety of white mulberry.  Photo by Shiyali at Dreamstime.com
A variety of white mulberry. Photo by Shiyali at Dreamstime.com

Mulberry Species

Species

There are three main species of mulberry trees. These mulberry species include:

  • White Mulberry (Morus alba L.)
  • Black Mulberry (M. nigra L.)
  • American Mulberry, Red Mulberry (M. rubra L.)

There are also many hybrids between the red and white species.

The mulberry is also known as Noni in some areas of the world.


How to Grow Mulberries

Growing Mulberries

Growing mulberries is fairly easy, and they grow in just about any hardiness zone within the United States. However, only certain species will grow within those hardiness zones.

  • American or red mulberry - this species can survive sub-zero temperatures. Recommended hardiness zones are 4-10.
  • White mulberry – the recommended zones are 6-11.
  • Black mulberry – prefers a warm, though not humid, climate, though some varieties (Superberry Black) and survive in a zone 3 (-35 degrees) environment. This variety is typically grown in the Pacific Northwest.

The trees can thrive in poor soil, however they shouldn't be planted in rocky soil or near roadways. They also require adequate moisture. If there is a draught, the trees will prematurely drop the fruit if the roots are allowed to dry out. Black mulberry trees will thrive in richer soil

  • Red mulberry trees may reach a height of 75-80 feet tall and are short lived – approximately 70-75 years.
  • White mulberry trees may reach a height of 80 feet tall and are short lived as well.
  • Black mulberry trees reach an approximate height of 30 feet tall, when trained as young trees (otherwise they may remain as bushes). They are long lived, often living several hundred years while still producing.

Very little pruning is required of mulberry trees.  Pruning while the trees are young to establish the framework is all that is needed.  Unpruned black mulberry trees may stay bush-sized if not pruned to a supporting framework.

Ripened Mulberry Fruit

The color name of the mulberry tree doesn't necessarily determine the color of the ripened fruit.  In most cases, it has to do with the color of the spring buds.

  • White mulberry – most species produce red fruits that gradually darken to an almost black color when ripe.  However, one variety, Whitey White, produces very sweet, plump berries that are actually white in color.  Typically harvested in late spring.
  • American or red – change in color from white, to pink and eventually a deep red when ripe.  Typically harvested in late spring.
  • Black – the berries change from pink to red and finally a black color upon ripening.  Harvested from mid to late summer.

Harvesting Mulberries

When it is time to harvest mulberries, the only equipment most people will use is their hands and a large, clean sheet.  Place the sheet under the area of the tree that you will be shaking and simply allow the fruit to fall to the covered ground.  Picking ripe mulberry fruit is often difficult because they are fragile and tend to break open easily.

Ripened fruit can be used to make pies, sauces and even liqueurs or wine.  The white fruit produced by the Whitey White variety has a high sugar content and is popular eaten either fresh or dried.  The black varieties are also sweet when fully ripened. The red varieties may vary in tartness. 

Considerations

While these trees produce a very tasty fruit, the area in which you plant them should be considered carefully.  The fruit falls in a wide area from the trees and can litter walkways and yards where children play or people frequent.  This makes it easy to track the remnants of fruit on the bottom of shoes into your home or car.

How to Harvest Mulberries

More by this Author

  • Ficus Tree Problems
    24

    Details of the types of ficus or fig trees, pests and problems. Photo gallery provided to assist in identifying common pests and diseases.

  • Growing Grapes in Northern Climates
    4

    Advice for cultivating hardy grape varieties in northern climates. Planting guide, problem solver and gallery of photos. Includes list of cold hardy varieties for wine, table grapes and those for jam and jelly.

  • Maple Tree Problems
    183

    Maple tree problems and solutions. Includes photo gallery of pests and diseases. Offers advice on treating common pests, diseases and weather-related problems.


Comments 8 comments

Linda 4 years ago

I live in Fremont, California. I planted a mulberry tree 7 years ago in my backyard. It gave fruit for 4 years now from last year we are having late summers so the young berries do not ripe instead they get dry. We are not able to eat a single one. Can someone please give us some idea how to get them ripened.


Daily Trading System Review 5 years ago

i have one mulberry tree in my garden...i am very fun of it..!I love eating it.! Nice hub..very interesting..!


Mini Greenhouse 5 years ago

Can anybody tell me if mulberries can be grown in the UK? Even if it was in a greenhouse? I'd really like to give it a try but im not sure we have the right climate to support them. Thanks for the informative hub!


ROS  5 years ago

HI CURT, I HAVE JUST BEEN UP MY MULBERRY TREE IN A 30 YEAR OLD GARDEN WE HAVE JUST BOUGHT AND AFTER ONLY GETTING HALF A BUCKEY FULL IN AN HOUR OF PICKING MY GUESS IS THEY ARE JUST FAR TO PRECIOUS AND CONSUMING TO HARVEST. ANYWAY - I CANT WAIT TO GIVE THEM TO MY MOTHER TO MAKE A TRADITIONAL PIE. SHE ALSO HAD A TREE WHEN SHE WAS A LITTLE GIRL.


Curt Cox 6 years ago

Here in St. Louis, the mulberry trees produce ripe fruit for about two months of the year -- from early May to late June. During this time, the amount of ripe fruit on a tree will depend a lot on bird migration and the amount of time since the last storm. Many birds eat ripe mulberries and storms shake them off of the trees. Different trees, and even different parts of the same tree, will produce ripe berries at different times during this two month period.

Does anyone know why you can't buy fresh mulberries in stores like you can so many other berry types?


Gerber Ink profile image

Gerber Ink 6 years ago from upstate New York Author

Hi Nathan, The trees produce fruit just once in a season, though the ripening of the fruit may extend a week or more, depending on weather conditions in your area.


Nathan  6 years ago

How many times a year do they produce fruit? If someone could let me know. Thanks nathanpilgrim2005@yahoo.com


Audrevea 6 years ago

I grew up with a huge mulberry tree in the garden. It was wonderful to climb and pick the fruit and we'd come in with stained hands and mouths from the dark purple juice. It's a bit like a blackberry flavour but more mushy in texture and less tart (i.e. much sweeter). Great hub - brings back memories.

Submit a Comment
New comments are not being accepted on this article at this time.
Click to Rate This Article
working