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Mulberry.....to coppice or just prune?

 
Tim Canton
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I have 2 mulberries I want to keep manageable size and actually have access to the berries.

Just wondering if folks have a preference of bush pruning or coppice management?  I have heard the coppices produce fruit on one and 2 year old shoots which would make management super easy.

Just curious what others are doing?
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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coppice would be nice, cause then you could use the leaves for an excellent (high protein) animal or human food.  I imagine the wood would be a decent firewood, too.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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At our new place, we have an old non-fruiting mulberry.  The trunk is wide enough I couldn't hug all the way round.  It has been coppiced way back regularly over the years, and always grows back with a vengeance.  Can't tell you about the fruit, but no problem producing wood and leaves. 

Wondering if we might be able to graft a fruiting variety? 
 
            
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Location: Ontario, Canada (44.265475, -77.960029)
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velacreations wrote: human food.
 

I'm assuming early in the season.  Any suggestions beyond adding to salad greens?  We've got 1/2 dozen reds and an Illinois so there are lots of young leaves in the spring.

I imagine the wood would be a decent firewood, too.


Supposed to be the around the BTU's of black locust.  Ours are young trees - less than 5 years old - but based on this past year's willow-like growth rate and a few fruit, I expect this coming year will give us a lot of fruit and possibly coppiceable size trunks.  I'll only try a couple of trees because I have no idea what that will do to fruit production.  It'll certainly set it back but I don't know for how long.

Regards,
Mike
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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for human food, you can also convert the leaves to rabbits or chickens/eggs.

I have read that the leaves are often used as wraps for foods, kinda like a tortilla, but I don't know much about that....
 
            
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Location: Ontario, Canada (44.265475, -77.960029)
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velacreations wrote:
for human food, you can also convert the leaves to rabbits or chickens/eggs.


I've got my hands full working with plants and bees for the first time this year so animals aren't in the equation. But rabbits, chickens or dwarf goats would be my animals of choice because they have smaller appetites meaning that I would have a smaller winter feed problem which would mean that I have a smaller amount of winter feed to produce. I'm of the view that small is better especially if it also means simpler.

I have read that the leaves are often used as wraps for foods, kinda like a tortilla, but I don't know much about that....


Would never have thought of that. Thanks. The Illinois Everbearing has large leaves that would work well.

Regards,
Mike
 
Tim Canton
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MikeH wrote:
 

  I'll only try a couple of trees because I have no idea what that will do to fruit production.  It'll certainly set it back but I don't know for how long.

Regards,
Mike


Mike,

I have been told that once the tree is coppiced it will produce fruit on 1st and 2nd year growth.  So you can basically harvest half the "limbs" the 1st year and then just harvest the the 2nd year growth at the end of each year.....Just what I have been told...but a respectable source of info.
 
Hugh Hawk
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Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
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I've seen them coppiced to about shoulder height with no problems.  I believe this one was cut right back every year, but you might get a better yield using 2nd year growth as well.  My black mulberry bears twice a year, mid spring fruiting on the last year's growth and summer fruiting on the current year's growth, so this would make sense.  I think the twice fruiting is dependent on variety and climate though.
 
Guy De Pompignac
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velacreations wrote:
for human food, you can also convert the leaves to rabbits or chickens/eggs.


Have you seen chicken consuming raw leaves ? I read an article about mulberry leaves in pellets, but no record of voluntary comsuption of raw leaves ?
 
Jack Shawburn
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Mike & Hugh H. ,

Do you think the Fruiting twice a year will generally happen with coppicing all mulberry?

If so, then thats really good news
I've planted a couple new trees and will try this after a year or three.

Cut it right down, then let it grow shoots, then Coppice half after that.?
Do this on a yearly basis or only as the tree seems big enough?
 
Hugh Hawk
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Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
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My feeling is it will fruit twice if the right variety and in an appropriate climate.

If you are in a cool temperate climate it may be too cold.  Warm temperate or subtropical would work I think.

As to the variety, I have success with black mulberry - not coppiced, but bearing twice a year.

I'd cut back yearly if the yield is fine, but always trim off only the 2 year old branches, leaving the 1 year olds for another season.

 
Jack Shawburn
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Thanks Hugh
We get rain in summer 600mm - very little in winter
temps similar to yours, also southern hemisphere 1150m alt.

They are Black mulberries - all are volunteers.
I read that its best to coppice when under 5-6" diameter at ground level.
It will be at least two years before first cut.

How do they react to cutting about 3-5feet above ground?
thus keeping a strong Trunk and keeping soil away from the cut area?.

Sorry for hijacking Organick.. but I learnt something here today.
 
Hugh Hawk
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Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
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3-5 ft should work but I'd be inclined to go for 5-6 feet so you can actually get under it but still short enough for easy pruning.  Technically a pollard rather than a coppice I guess.

http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/profile.aspx?PID=156#section3

Sounds like the basic technique is to let the tree grow till it reaches your preferred height, then cut back to a single stem with a few small branches at the top.
 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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This study was aimed at evaluating forage production using mulberry at different spacing, cut height and timing of harvest.  It may give you some things to think about regarding berry production capacity, though.

http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/005/X9895E/x9895e09.htm
 
Jack Shawburn
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I like that site. Read some of it before.
Most interesting parts for me are the two last annexes
on poultry and animal production
Table of Contents
http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/005/X9895E/x9895e00.htm#Contents

In one of the earlier pages it mentions Mulberry as a Temperate to Cold climate plant
but it does really well in our dry / summer rainfall / high altitude area too.
I notice that the large leaved "male" plant grows much stronger than the "female" trees
 
Aljaz Plankl
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I would like to clarify something.
Coppice is cuting at ground level.
We can do that with mullberry?
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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My 'early white' appears to be on second fruiting, even though it is a graft just done this February.

This photo is from first fruiting, May 14, you can see the grafting tape at right. Second fruit probably will be ripe this week, mid July. Zone 9.

early white grafted.jpg
[Thumbnail for early white grafted.jpg]
 
Steven Edholm
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I'm very interested to hear any progress or lessons gleaned over the last couple of years since this thread started. I'm plotting a soil improvement system using coppiced woody plants and I'm wondering how feasible it is to use mulberries for biomass coppice and still harvest some fruit. I like the cutting out two year shoots only idea, but does it actually work? Anyone been experimenting? I want a coppice crop that will produce a significant and useful crop and also a lot of biomass. Mulberry is fast growing, easy to manage and produces a high value food, while also holding the possibility for harvest of high protein feedstock for plant eaters, so it's at the top of the list.
 
R Scott
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What are your livestock plans? Or wildlife pressure. Only problem with coppicing in my book is it puts the shoots at a height anything can eat them. Deer and goats both will eat the tips off all the shoots in no time. I prefer pollarding if livestock or wildlife are the main problem. If voles and rabbits are the issue, then coppice helps prevent girdling of the entire tree.
 
jimmy gallop
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coppice or pollarding for second year growth shouldn't be a problem I don't think you could do it every year
it takes about 3 to 5 years or more for enough growth to use for much from my observations
 
Steven Edholm
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I don't really have livestock plans and prefer to remain flexible in that and all design departments because life has a way of changing. But, I could see maybe having rabbits or other livestock and hand harvesting leaves or lopping stuff for them from the coppice. Coppice or pollard could be better depending on circumstances. For me, now, it would be a fenced area with no large animals allowed. For mulberries grown as a food crop, hand harvesting would be much easier with a coppice as would netting the bushes to keep birds off and everything else except maybe pollarding or coppicing itself might be easier on a head height tree than near the ground. The idea is more of an experiment on a specific idea or focus, which is an area providing feedstock for it's own biochar to improve site soil. It could get more complicated or elegant (or elegantly) complicated, from there, but for now I'm mostly interested in performance of mulberry as a coppice in terms of fruit and biomass production, specifically the feasibility of fruit production combined with high biomass production, or if those two goals are incompatible when it comes to Mulberry. Other coppiceable plants may work as well or better in the biomass production department, but I can't think of any temperate plants that are as likely as mulberry to combine a high value crop (money and food) and high biomass production. But, I don't have a lot of experience with mulberry. I do know that large pollarded mulberries can grow a lot of wood in one season. A mixed specie system could be better in some ways, but monocropping has it's advantages too and I think that is just dependent on site, goal, scale and other circumstances.
 
Angela Baker
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Location: Portland, OR
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We have an Illinois Everbearing in our poultry run which we pollarded to provide shade and to use as chicken and duck feed. The birds have zero interest in the leaves, but are glad to have the fruit. The tree is very vigorous and provides a nice quantity of mulch, though.

We also have a contorted mulberry which is too lovely and not conducive to coppice, and I just prune it aggressively to keep it small. The berries are smaller, but tasty nonetheless.
 
Zach Muller
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Guy De Pompignac wrote:
velacreations wrote:
for human food, you can also convert the leaves to rabbits or chickens/eggs.


Have you seen chicken consuming raw leaves ? I read an article about mulberry leaves in pellets, but no record of voluntary comsuption of raw leaves ?


I have a couple of young chickens who I have seen actually up on the mulberry pecking the leaves, both dried ones and live. I think it is maybe just a tiny fraction of their diet. They did it more this winter to the few dried leaves that hadn't fallen off the tree.

Sometimes I prune a few mulberries when the berries are on and throw it in the chicken pen. They eat the berries first, then come back later for the leaves. Again, they love the berries, but most are indifferent to the leaves.
 
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