Mulberry is a fairly frequent visitor to the gardens of southern Russia. This tree gives good harvests of berries from year to year, and often without any maintenance. Despite this, many gardeners prefer to prune the mulberry tree. And this is absolutely justified. Mulberry pruning is a very useful activity that allows you to beautifully shape the tree, increase its yield and avoid many diseases.
Why do you need pruning mulberry trees
Mulberry trees are grown not only for harvesting. They are very decorative, especially varieties with a weeping crown, so gardeners often decorate their summer cottages or adjoining territories with them. And also the greens of the mulberry tree are used as a forage crop for the silkworm. For any of these purposes, pruning will be helpful. It contributes to the maintenance of the crown in a healthy state, allows you to competently shape the tree in a certain way so that it is convenient to work with it in the future.
Pruning gives a powerful impetus to the development of new shoots, enhances lateral branching and growth of green mass. As a result, the crown is denser, and the tree synthesizes more nutrients by photosynthesis. Cutting out old, diseased and damaged branches on time makes the tree healthier, prevents diseases from developing, and reduces the number of pests. All these measures improve the decorative appearance of the mulberry, as well as increase its yield.
Features of pruning different types of mulberry
The methods of pruning a mulberry tree depend on its purpose. If it is planted to obtain a harvest of berries, it is formed as a fruit, laying several fruit-bearing tiers. A tree planted for decorative purposes is trimmed according to its chosen crown shape, maintaining its type and size. Technical trees, the foliage of which serves as food for silkworm caterpillars, are pruned so that branching and the amount of green mass are maximized.
Types of pruning
There are several types of mulberry pruning. All of them are carried out to perform specific tasks and differ from each other. There are the following types of mulberry pruning:
Formative pruning is done in the first few years after the mulberry seedling is planted. During this period, mulberry is characterized by intensive growth, at this time the base of the tree is laid, its skeleton is formed. Mulberries are planted not only for the harvest of berries. It is often used in landscape design, as well as for technical purposes, as a fodder base for silkworm breeding. Depending on this, the formation of the mulberry is made:
- Fruit tree.
- A decorative tree on a trunk with a spherical crown.
- With a broom.
- A tree with a weeping crown.
- The bush.
The way the mulberry crown is formed also depends on the region in which the tree grows. The bushy form is more winter-hardy, therefore this method is widely used in cold regions. Some mulberry varieties are distinguished by long annual shoots, therefore, they have a predisposition to the formation of a tree with a weeping crown.
Mulberry yields can decrease significantly over time. You can restore it with the help of anti-aging pruning. This procedure is usually carried out over several years. During this time, old wood is gradually removed, instead of it, new shoots are grown, on which fruiting is transferred. At the same time, dried and broken branches, as well as diseased and affected by pests, are removed. Shoots thickening and growing deeper into the crown, vertical tops and competitors are removed. The inner space of the crown is lightened.
Sanitary pruning of mulberries should be carried out annually at least 2 times per season. This is early spring, when the tree has not yet entered the growing season, as well as autumn, after the end of leaf fall. In the course of sanitary pruning, broken, dried and damaged branches are removed, the trunk of the tree is cleaned. Shoots with traces of disease are also removed.
How to properly prune a mulberry tree
In order to cut the mulberry tree correctly and not cause irreparable damage to the tree, you must follow certain rules:
- You can only trim trees at certain times of the year.
- For trimming, it is necessary to use only high-quality, well-sharpened and disinfected tools. Cuts left by sharp edges heal much better and faster.
- The older the trees, the more vigorous pruning can be done. Young trees must be pruned carefully, otherwise it can lead to their death.
- Green, non-lignified shoots can be broken out by hand or pinched at the top, thereby stopping their growth in case of their uselessness or improper growth.
- When removing shoots “on a ring” or when pruning on a promising bud or shoot, it is necessary to follow the correct technique.
How to prune mulberries in spring
Spring pruning of mulberries is done when the threat of large frosts is completely absent, otherwise the pruned shoots are guaranteed to freeze. This procedure can be started only after the air temperature has been steadily established above -10 ° C. In the southern regions, mulberries can be cut in early March, in more northern regions - in April. The exact time of spring pruning is chosen taking into account the peculiarities of the climate of the region. It is important to have time to do this procedure before the start of sap flow, then the rehabilitation period for mulberries will be minimal.
Mulberry pruning in spring includes all the main types of work. At this time, the tree is sanitized, the crown of a young mulberry is formed, and work is also carried out to rejuvenate old plants.
How to prune a mulberry tree in summer
The summer mulberry pruning scheme is very simple. As a rule, large works are not carried out at this time. The only exception is the trimming of decorative mulberries, the crown of which needs to be maintained in a constant shape. At this time, only young growth is cut off, which goes beyond the dimensions. At this time, you can limit the growth of green, non-lignified shoots, if you plan to remove them in the future. To do this, simply pinch off their top with a fingernail. This measure allows the plant to direct nutrients to the growth and ripening of berries, and not to excessive shoots.
How to properly prune mulberries in the fall
In autumn, pruning of mulberry trees is usually carried out only for sanitary purposes. The tree is examined, if necessary, damaged and dried branches are cut out. Particular attention should be paid to the crown if the appearance of diseases or pests was noted on it during the season. Branches affected by fungus or other pathologies are removed, after which they must be collected and burned.
Mulberry formation by years
There are several schemes for the formative pruning of mulberries in spring. Depending on the purpose of planting, the crown of a tree can be formed as follows.
- The crown of a fruit tree. In the first year, the seedling is cut to a height of 1 m. All other shoots are removed completely. In the second year of life, you need to choose from the grown lateral shoots 3-5 of the strongest, extending from the central conductor at an angle of 45 ° or more, located at a height of 0.7 m from the ground and above. All other shoots must be removed. The central conductor is cut, leaving 4-5 buds on it above the upper lateral branch. The lower skeletal branches are cut to a length of 0.3 m, the upper ones must be shortened even more. In the third year, the tree is considered complete.
- Spherical decorative crown. It is formed on a bare trunk at a height of 1-1.5 m. The central conductor is cut at a height of 2-4 m, depending on the need. Trimming of lateral shoots is done by 1/3 in the upper and lower parts of the crown and by ¼ in the middle. The main thing is that the crown is uniform around the circumference and resembles a ball.
- Decorative "broom". A very beautiful crown type. First, it is necessary to completely clear the trunk from side shoots to a level of 1-1.5 m from the ground. Then you need to choose 3-5 strong side shoots, which have a large angle of discharge and are located approximately at the same height from the ground. The rest must be removed. Selected branches are cut off by 4 buds. The guidewire should be trimmed flush with the upper skeletal branch.
- "Weeping" crown. To form such a crown, it is necessary to grow a tree with a stem to a height of 1.5 m. Each of the shoots growing higher is cut to 4-5 buds, which should be directed outward. Each following spring, all growing annual shoots are also pruned to 5-6 buds facing outward.
- This order is maintained until the complete formation of the crown.
- Bush. Mulberry bush formation is used in areas with unfavorable weather conditions. To form a crown of this type, it is necessary in the first year of the seedling's life to choose 3-5 strong lateral shoots extending from the trunk at a height of 0.15-0.4 m. They are cut into 4-5 buds, all other branches are removed. The center conductor is trimmed at the height of the superior skeletal ramus.
- In the second year, the procedure must be repeated, choosing another 3-4 shoots. Last year's shoots are cut by 1/3. In the third year, the bush should consist of 6-8 equivalent trunks. Weak lateral shoots and improperly growing branches must be cut “on a ring”.
After the crown is formed in the right way, it is maintained in the required dimensions, pruning and thinning the annual growth.
Important! In subsequent years, only sanitary and anti-aging trimmings are made.
How to form mulberries in the Moscow region
The Moscow region is an atypical area for planting and growing mulberries. The natural area of its growth is located south of the Kursk and Voronezh regions. However, it is quite possible to grow mulberry trees in the Moscow region and even to the north. To do this, choose white mulberry varieties, such as White Staromoskovskaya, Admiralskaya or White Medovaya. Their winter hardiness is higher than that of red and black varieties. When landing, the place is very important. It should be open and sunny, but at the same time well protected from the north and east wind.
The best results when growing mulberries in the Moscow region are given by their formation in the form of a low (up to 1.5 m) bush on a very short trunk. This form makes it possible for the winter to bend the shoots to the ground and cover them. Sanitary cleaning takes place in this region in late April or early May, after the winter shelter has been removed. Autumn pruning of mulberries in the Moscow region, as a rule, is not carried out, so as not to weaken its winter hardiness.
Plant care after pruning
Mulberry does not require special care, it is a very unpretentious plant. After pruning, it is advisable to only slightly feed the plant. In the spring, this can be done by adding rotted manure, humus, as well as a complex nitrogen-containing fertilizer, for example, nitroammofoska, to the root zone. After pruning in the fall, you can add some superphosphate to the soil. Nitrogen fertilizers are not applied at this time of the year.
The cut branches must be collected and burned, especially after sanitary pruning. They can be home to fungal spores, pathogens and insect pests. After that, the tree trunks must be whitewashed. Such a measure will prevent excessive heating and cracking of the tree bark in the bright spring sun. Whitewashing is also a good prophylactic agent against insect pests and their larvae overwintering in cracks and folds of the bark.
Mulberry pruning is a fairly simple procedure that even a beginner can do. Nevertheless, you need to start it only after studying the theoretical part. And for beginners it is better for the first time to use the help of more experienced colleagues.