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.
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 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.
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.
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
Mulberry Tree Care Resources
- Cornell Fruit Resources, Cornell University
- Mulberry Tree Diseases | Garden Guides
Mulberry Tree Diseases. Mulberry, known botanically as the species Morus, are deciduous flowering and fruiting trees. There are two main cultivars, Morus rubra and Morus alba or red and white mulberry, respectively. They are...
- Propagating Mulberry Trees — Twisted Tree Farm
- Grow Your Own Mulberries
- Morus (plant) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- MULBERRY Fruit Facts