Monday, 25 March 2013

Mulberry Cultivation for Silkworms Hint

Three years back I needed some mulberry saplings for a new mulberry field nearer to the house. It was June and slightly too late to take cuttings and start from there. I did, but only 10% took. I planted a dozen mulberry berries and had a bumper crop of sprouts. 150 healthy saplings. Great. But no. The original mulberry berry was from a hybrid.  A very good hybrid. Thick juicy dark leaves. Plenty of nourishment for the silkworms. The from-seed-saplings had reverted to a wild variety. Thin leaves and pale colouring. Not much nourishment happening there. The original cut saplings were stronger and kept the original hybrid genes. The saplings from seed have strong roots and it seems a shame to throw them away.

The old guy next door saw my weasel-like mulberry and advised me to graft quickly before they started to draw the ground water in spring. After talking to him for a while I came to understand that in the old days the mulberry saplings were in fact started from seed and then had a hybrid sprig grafted on after two years because saplings from cuttings would have a weak root system.  Hmmmmm.

I grafted on some twigs from my favorite monster mulberry tree near the river. I later paraffin waxed the graft to keep the graft point moist.

This is a pretty specific post but someone out there might just find this information handy.

Saplings from seed. Most were a tad on the weedy side. They had reverted to a wild variety. Soy beans and indigo in the background.

Strong roots from seed-started mulberry but the leaves are not up to par.

I later waxed the graft. This was a few days ago and it seems the graft has taken!


  1. great information - how old does the tree need to be before it becomes worm food?

    1. As long as it has extra leaves to spare this summer will be fine. They grow fast. In three years it will be perfect. In five years, if pruned and shaped properly from the start it is basically in full leaf production mode.

  2. Thanks for that info Bryan - I'll be using it in the future for the propagation of my mulberry tree (for human consumption of the fruit, not sustaining silkworms, though).

  3. Mulberry trees are extraordinary trees. There are some really interesting papers on this link, both Mulberry trees and silkworms. The Mulberry tree articles are particularly interesting in regard to cultivation etc. My friend recently lost her 64 hectare lot of Mulberry trees to a disease, as you can imagine she was pretty devastated.
    We have been playing with a lot of different varieties, the Shahtoot has quite a fibrous leaf but you can't beat the good old fashioned Hicks. I"m thinking there are a whole different range of variety in Japan.

  4. so beautiful, that perfect little join. i'm glad it took.

  5. A great post, nothing really stops you, right? I admire your ingenuity and persistence.

  6. not for mulberries for me, but the grafting info will be helpful for other projects.