Ultimate Guide to Mulberry Cultivation

Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to Mulberry Cultivation! Mulberries, renowned for their delicious fruits and ornamental value, are increasingly popular among gardeners and farmers alike. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the art and science of cultivating mulberries, covering everything from selection of the right variety to nurturing healthy plants and maximizing yields.

Ultimate Guide to Mulberry Cultivation

Introduction to Mulberry Cultivation

Mulberry cultivation, essential for sericulture, thrives in climates with temperatures from 24 to 28°C and well-distributed rainfall. Ideal soils are slightly acidic, with good depth and drainage. Propagation is commonly done through cuttings, ensuring rapid establishment and growth. Regular irrigation, pruning, and fertilization are key to healthy plants and high-quality leaves, which are vital for silkworm rearing and contribute significantly to the silk industry.

Varieties of Mulberry

Mulberry trees, belonging to the Moraceae family, offer a range of varieties. The White Mulberry (Morus alba) is known for its sweet fruit and silk-producing foliage, thriving in zones 4-8. The Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) grows up to 70 feet and bears rich, flavorful fruit, suitable for zones 4-9. The Black Mulberry (Morus nigra), native to Western Asia, is celebrated for its large, juicy berries, ideal for zones 6-9. Each variety has unique characteristics, making mulberries a diverse and adaptable species.

Soil Requirements for Mulberry Trees

Mulberry trees thrive in a variety of soil types, but they achieve optimal growth in loamy to clayey loam soils. They can tolerate slightly acidic conditions; however, soils with a pH below 5 require amendments such as dolomite or lime to correct acidity. For soils, gypsum can be used to manage soil alkalinity. Mulberry trees are deep-rooted, so well-drained soil at least two feet deep is ideal. They grow well up to an elevation of 4,000 feet, beyond which cooler temperatures can impede growth.

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Growing Mulberries

Climate Needs for Mulberry Growth

Mulberry cultivation thrives in a climate with a mean atmospheric temperature ranging from 13°C to 37.7°C, ideally between 24°C and 28°C. Relative humidity should be between 65 to 80 percent, with sunshine duration of 5 to 12 hours per day. Rainfall requirements vary from 600mm to 2500mm; however, under low rainfall conditions, supplemental irrigation may be necessary. Slightly acidic, pH of 6.2 to 6.8, and free from harmful salts. Mulberry plants can grow up to 800 meters above sea level, with the optimum elevation for growth being around 710 meters.

Propagation Techniques

Mulberry cultivation primarily employs cuttings for propagation, ensuring a robust start in the main field or nursery. Semi-hardwood cuttings from 8-12 month-old plants are ideal, chosen for their thickness and health, free from pests and diseases. These cuttings, about 15-20 cm long with 3-4 active buds, are planted at a 45-degree angle to encourage rooting. Pre-treatment with Azospirillum culture enhances early root formation, while a well-prepared nursery bed with ample Farm Yard Manure (FYM) provides a nurturing environment for the saplings. Once established, these saplings are transferred to the main field, setting the stage.

Planting Mulberries

Mulberry cultivation begins with selecting a suitable variety and preparing the land, ensuring it’s flat or gently sloping. The soil should be deep, loamy to clayey loam, with a pH that’s slightly acidic to neutral. Planting material, usually cuttings or saplings, is then planted with adequate spacing to allow for growth and air circulation. Regular weeding, training, and pruning are essential to maintain healthy plants.

Watering Requirements

Mulberry plants prefer loamy to clayey loam soils and can tolerate slight acidity. For optimal growth, mulberries require consistent moisture, especially during dry spells, to prevent premature fruit drop. Generally, 1 inch of water weekly is recommended, with adjustments during rainfall. Deep watering to saturate the root system is crucial. In drier climates, supplemental irrigation is necessary, aligning with the average requirement of 50mm every ten days.

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Fresh Mulberry

Nutrient Management

Effective nutrient management for Mulberry requires a balanced supply of nutrients, particularly nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A recommended dose for mature plants is 350:140:140 kg/ha/year of NPK, divided into five equal splits. A lighter dose is advisable for young plants.

Organic manure, such as Farm Yard Manure (FYM), should be applied at 25 MT/ha/year to improve soil fertility and structure. Additionally, mulberry thrives in slightly acidic soils with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8 and requires regular irrigation, especially in low rainfall conditions. Careful pruning and weed control are also essential to ensure the plants have adequate space and resources to grow.

Pest and Disease Control

Effective pest and disease control is essential for silkworms’ primary food source. Regular monitoring and the application of appropriate fungicides are recommended to manage foliar diseases such as leaf spot, powdery mildew, and leaf rust. Soil-borne diseases like root rot can be managed by ensuring good drainage and using resistant varieties.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies, combining cultural, biological, and chemical methods, are effective for controlling pests like the mulberry fruit fly and lepidopteran caterpillars. Regular pruning, sanitation, and the use of disease-free planting materials are also essential practices.

Pruning and Training Mulberry Trees

Pruning and training mulberry trees are crucial for successful mulberry cultivation. During the dormant season, typically late winter to early spring, pruning should be performed before new growth starts. The process involves removing dead, damaged, or diseased branches to promote healthier growth and better fruit yields. It’s also important to thin out crowded branches to enhance air circulation, which helps prevent fungal diseases. 

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Growing Mulberries

Training mulberry trees involves creating a sturdy framework for the tree to ensure that it can support the weight of the fruit. This is usually done by selecting strong, healthy branches during the tree’s early growth stages and guiding the tree’s shape as it matures. Regular pruning and training help maintain the tree’s structure, improve sunlight penetration, and facilitate easier harvesting.

Monitoring Growth and Development

Mulberry plants, being the primary food source for silkworms, require careful attention to soil quality, irrigation, and nutrient management. Optimal growth is achieved in loamy to clayey loam soils with a deep root system to support the plant. Regular soil testing and amendments, along with the application of recommended fertilizers, ensure the high leaf productivity essential for silkworm rearing. 

Additionally, the right climatic conditions, with temperatures ranging 24 to 28°C and relative humidity between 65 to 80 percent, are vital for mulberry plants to thrive. Effective monitoring involves observing these parameters closely and adjusting cultivation practices accordingly to maintain the health and productivity of the mulberry plantation.

Harvesting Mulberries

Mulberries are typically ready for harvest in late spring or early summer after the tree has been established for about two to three years. The berries should be picked when they have fully changed color, indicating ripeness, as they do not continue to ripen once plucked. To harvest, one can handpick the berries or shake the branches over a sheet to collect the fallen fruit. It’s important to handle the berries gently to prevent bruising, and they should be stored in a cool place promptly after harvesting. 

Mulberries are known for their short shelf life, so immediate processing or refrigeration is recommended to maintain their quality. For larger-scale operations, mechanical harvesting may be employed, but care must be taken to ensure the delicate berries are not damaged during the process.

Post-Harvest Handling and Storage

After harvesting, mulberries should be cooled promptly to around 32°F with high humidity levels above 90% to prevent desiccation and preserve freshness. Avoiding mechanical damage during picking and transportation is essential as it can lead to rapid deterioration. For storage, mulberries are not sensitive to chilling injury and thus can tolerate temperatures slightly below freezing due to their high sugar content and respiration rates.

Quick precooling to storage temperature is recommended, and maintaining high humidity without direct water contact helps prevent mold growth and preserve texture. For extended storage, controlled atmosphere conditions can slow down ripening and senescence processes.

Uses and Benefits of Mulberries

These berries are rich in nutrients, including iron, vitamin C, and various beneficial plant compounds, which may help reduce cholesterol, blood sugar, and cancer risk. Cultivation-wise, mulberry trees are hardy and grow under a wide range of conditions, and their leaves are food source for silkworms, making them vital for sericulture. The economic benefits are notable as well; mulberry trees support industries like pharmaceuticals, food, and textiles, with their leaves, fruits, and stems being used for products ranging from herbal teas to natural dyes.

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Mulberry Plantation

Ecological Requirements

  • Climate: Mulberries thrive at elevations up to 800 m MSL, requiring mean temperatures between 13°C to 37.7°C. Optimal conditions include temperatures of 24°C to 28°C, relative humidity of 65% to 80%, 5 to 12 hours of sunlight daily.
  • Rainfall: Suitable rainfall ranges from 600mm to 2500mm. In low rainfall areas, supplemental irrigation of 50mm every ten days is beneficial.
  • Soil: Slightly acidic soils (pH 6.2 to 6.8) devoid of harmful salts support mulberry growth. Saline and alkaline soils are unsuitable.
  • Varieties: Different varieties like Kanva 2, MR 2, S 30, and others are recommended based on irrigation levels.
  • Propagation: Mulberry is predominantly propagated through semi-hardwood cuttings chosen from healthy, mature plants with a diameter of 10-12mm.
  • Nursery Preparation: Nursery beds of 4m x 1.5m are ideal, with proper drainage and sunlight exposure.

Planting and Management

  • Planting Methods: Various spacing methods like paired row systems or pit systems are employed based on irrigation levels, with transplanting done during the rainy season.
  • Nutrient Management: Fertilizer recommendations vary for irrigated, semi-irrigated, and rainfed conditions, with bio-fertilizers and micronutrients also crucial for optimal growth.
  • Weed Control: Integrated methods, including cultural, mechanical, and chemical approaches, are employed to manage weed flora effectively.
  • Intercropping: Short-duration pulse crops like black gram and cowpea are recommended for intercropping to enrich soil and control weeds.
  • Pruning: Various methods such as bottom pruning, middle pruning, and kolar or strip system are practiced to maintain plant health.
  • Harvesting: Leaves are harvested through methods like leaf picking, branch cutting, or whole shoot harvest, preferably during morning hours.
  • Storage: Leaves are stored using preservation chambers or wet gunny bags to maintain freshness.

Marketing and Sales Strategies

Effective marketing and sales strategies for mulberry cultivation involve understanding the unique selling points of mulberry products, such as their use in sericulture for silk production and their nutritional value. A key strategy is to target specific markets, such as the textile industry for silk or health food sectors for mulberry fruits. Building relationships with silk manufacturers can be crucial, as well as establishing a brand that stands for quality and reliability. 

Online marketing, through social media and agricultural platforms, can raise awareness and reach wider audiences. Additionally, attending trade shows and agricultural fairs can provide opportunities for direct sales and networking. It’s also beneficial to explore government schemes that support sericulture, which can provide financial and infrastructural assistance. Lastly, diversifying the use of mulberry, like in animal feed or as a health supplement, can open new revenue streams.

Economic Analysis and Profitability

Mulberry cultivation, a critical component of the sericulture industry, is a viable and profitable agricultural activity, particularly in regions like India, where it complements the silk production process. An economic analysis reveals that the cost of mulberry cultivation involves expenses on inputs such as saplings, fertilizers, and labor.

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Blackberry Harvest

The profitability hinges on the yield of mulberry leaves, food source for silkworms. Farmers can expect a substantial return on investment due to the high demand for silk and the continuous need for mulberry leaves for silkworm rearing. Challenges such as pest management, labor costs, and market fluctuations can affect profitability, but with proper management and support from agricultural programs, mulberry cultivation.

Mastering mulberry cultivation entails careful selection of varieties, optimal soil preparation, and diligent maintenance practices. With attention to detail and patience, growers can enjoy a bounty of flavorful and nutritious fruit for years to come, making mulberry cultivation a gratifying and sustainable endeavor.


  1. I Want To Enter Into Sericulture I Have 5 Acres Of Land It Is Black Soil. So, Please Send Me Details About Farming.


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