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Pollarding mulberry, coppicing hazelnut - effect on fruit/nut production?

 
Posts: 32
Location: Salt Spring Island BC (zone 8-ish, yes really!)
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I am considering buying and farming on a property which has a power right of way crossing it. About 6 of the 10 acres, the part within the right of way, can be used for farming if an application to the utility company explaining the planned use is approved. (obviously not an ideal situation but it brings the price of the property down considerably) The utility company requires any vegetation on the right of way to be no taller than 10 feet. The neighbouring property is a winery and is using their right of way area to grow wine grapes. We'd be setting up a farmstand on the property so I am looking at growing a diversity of (preferably) higher-value crops as well as producing our own food.

My plan is to plant taller nut (mainly chestnut) trees on the 4 acres that are not affected by the right of way. I will plant smaller shade-tolerant nut (hazelnut) and fruit (paw paw, which may or may not do okay in this climate, not sure if we are warm enough in summer) trees and shade-tolerant fruit bushes (currants, elderberry, etc.) under the tall nut trees. There is an area with mature heritage fruit trees (planted early 1900s, most likely) that probably could be rejuvenated with some care. I have been generating a list of things I would be able to grow in the area that is restricted to 10 ft height. There are sour cherries, serviceberries (Saskatoons), highbush blueberries, and table grape varieties that mature at <10 ft. Will also probably put in a section of Xmas trees and am already growing a bunch of different basketry willows in pots at our existing farm to bring to the new place. We would, at least initially, also grow annual crops between the rows - e.g. corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, and greens. I'm also hoping to get mushrooms growing and will be moving our existing livestock, so will have eggs to sell.

However, and this is where I am (finally) coming to my question: there are some taller trees such as mulberries that I'd really like to grow but would have to put in the <10 ft section. I know these can be kept in the 10 ft height range through pollarding but I'm not sure if pollarded mulberries produce fruit?  I'd really like to get fruit production as well as leaves. I'm assuming mulberries will only do well with full sun, so that interplanting them among the taller nut trees would not be an option?

Similarly, I'm not sure if I might want to have some hazelnut production in the 10 ft height area, but those might have to be kept short by coppicing. My understanding is that coppicing hazels is mainly done for the purpose of production of hazel rods. Do those plants also produce nuts? I should clarify that I am looking at planting American/European hybrids and growing them in a multi-stem form rather than European hazels pruned into tree form (which is the more common commercial model here).

Would appreciate any insight on these questions. Thanks in advance - Andrea
 
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Hello Andrea,

There are bushing varieties of Mulberry, that if im not mistaken, some get to a max of about 10 ft: though I'm not sure how they rank on the flaver scale, as different varieties, don't all tast equal. In the sections limited by height, the bushing Mulberry will save you lots of work, and be healthier for the bushes. Goji Berry may be another crop to consider, and it stores well for long northern winters. My experience from a permaculture perspective, less annual maintenance is better. Annual topping, also known as pollarding or coppicing, is high maintenance, its also typically not good for the trees overall long term health. That annual topping only increases your work load, and when the reward for that extra work, is less fruit production, it's not really mutually beneficial. So in true permaculture fashion, there typically is a better option available, that you and your trees/bushes, will be much more productive with, and with less unnecessary work.
 
Andrea Locke
Posts: 32
Location: Salt Spring Island BC (zone 8-ish, yes really!)
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Hello J.,

Wow, I had no idea there were bush-sized mulberries. I will definitely have to look into those.

There are some small farms over on Vancouver Island growing goji berries so yes, those do grow well here. I have not tried growing them here myself, but both seeds and plants are readily available.  I did try growing them from seed I got from Richters, about a decade ago at a different property on the other side of the country and with a much more challenging zone 4 climate, and they sprouted but didn't survive there so I have never attempted them again.  I think what happened is I started expanding the goat herd and my gardening definitely suffered as I was too busy milking and dealing with the milk when I got home from work to grow anything experimental.  So you're right, I should give goji berries another chance.

Thanks for those comments, and I'm off to read up on bush mulberries and goji berries...

Cheers, Andrea
 
pollinator
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I have a European Hazelnut that is coppiced, the coppice is about 4-5 years old (the tree is older) I would guess and it is producing some but not many nuts. If it had to be cut to 10ft that would be this or next year so where I am you can get a few nuts from a young coppice but not many. My father worked with a lot of coppiced hazel and it produces nuts very nicely after about 8 years (they were coppicing on a 12 year rotation) but it was too tall for you by then (around  12-15ft)
 
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Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
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Weeping mulberries remain shorter and are easier to pick.  You might look into them.  My Eastern Hazelnuts are right at 10 ft and are producing well, but the nuts are small, maybe 1/2" or so.
 
Andrea Locke
Posts: 32
Location: Salt Spring Island BC (zone 8-ish, yes really!)
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Thanks Skandi and Gray. I am not sure in practice how exact the power company is about that 10 foot height limit. It might be possible to squeak by with 12 feet but probably best not to chance it. They have the right to come on the property to shorten vegetation that exceeds the allowable height and their local office is right across the road from this property.

I will have to get a better idea of mature height of the stock from which we are planning to get hazel seed this fall. If necessary we can probably fit all the hazels as understory plantings under the tall nut trees.

I do have a weeping mulberry at our existing place which has always struggled. The goats can reach one side of it. Probably in a goat free zone they survive better.

And J., just wanted to say as soon as I googled 'bush mulberry' I got a bunch of hits on Here We Come Round The Mulberry Bush so on some subliminal level I guess I should have been aware of the existence of bush mulberries! I did find some nurseries selling what they call dwarf mulberries but with little information on the quality and quantity of fruit. I have the impression that the dwarf and weeping mulberries have been developed primarily for decorative purposes. Is that others' understanding as well?
 
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If you are interested in dwarf mulberries, you may want to contact Eliza Greenman or Dr A. J. Bullard.

Eliza writes about a way to produce dwarfing mulberries with a copper wire, but does not get into details. If you can get details, I would love to know more.
https://elizapples.com/2017/03/22/dwarfing-mulberries-an-afternoon-with-dr-a-j-bullard/
Best
 
Andrea Locke
Posts: 32
Location: Salt Spring Island BC (zone 8-ish, yes really!)
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Very cool, Hans. I met Eliza earlier this month at the Northern Nut Growers / North American Fruit Explorers conference and we had some good conversations about mulberries among other things but did not get into questions of dwarfing. I will contact her for details and report back.
 
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