Mulberry maintenance

As part of trying to get better fibre from my mulberry plant, this year I am trying to prevent the original shoots from getting any side branches. This turns out to require some persistence at pulling off the suckers—the new branches that grow from the base of almost every leaf.Young mulberry suckers

When the suckers are very short, as the ones seen above, they are soft and easy to break off. Older mulberry suckers

But within a few days the suckers’ leaves start to open and their stems become fibrous enough that they require a good yank to break them off.

Furthermore, once a sucker has been removed, eventually two new suckers start to sprout from the original leaf base.

So pulling suckers has to be done at least twice a week, and unless you do it very methodically you will miss some and get some side branches anyway. By the time they have become woody there is no longer any point (as far as ease of stripping the fibre at harvest time) trying to remove them, although you can clip off their growing tips to try to put more growth into the main stems.

I’ll have to wait until fall to see how this affects the quality of the harvest.

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