Mulberry trees are deciduous trees which are traditionally winter pruned when they’re dormant and have no leaves, with the pruning carried out in late winter.
When spring arrives, the buds on the bare branches open to produce new leaves, as well as new branches which carry the mulberry fruit.
Yes, I did say fruit. Botanically, mulberries are not berries, they are multiple fruit, which contain the fruit of many flowers merged closely together.
After the fruit are harvested, no additional crops are produce, so mulberries normally produce a single crop in a year.
How to Extend the Cropping Season in Mulberries
Most fruit trees fruit on year old growth or older, which means that we must wait a year or more for new branches to mature before they can bear fruit.
Mulberries, on the other hand, fruit on new growth. Whenever new growth occurs, fruit will be produced. But new growth doesn’t have to happen once a year.
Whenever a tree is pruned, it will produce new growth, and if the pruning is done in the growing season (spring and summer), then even more new growth ill be produced.
After a mulberry has produced its first crop, the tree can be pruned, which will cause new growth to be produced, and more growth will produce more fruit! If doesn’t matter how far back the cut is made along the branch, because mulberries will produce new growth even if cut back fairly hard.
Ideally, cut new growth back by half to increase branching, for more information, see the article – How to Prune a Fruit Tree, Step By Step.
What if the branch still has unripe fruit, do we need to wait?
No, if there are fruit lower down on the branch, let it ripen, but if there is long vegetative (leafy, non-fruiting) growth at the end of the branches, then that can be cut off as shown in the picture at the very top of this article, leaving the mulberries lower down to ripen.
Using this method I successfully harvested four crops of mulberries in a year, so it really works!
Summer Pruning to Control Mulberry Tree Size
By knowing how trees grow, in the case of mulberries we can adjust our pruning timing to maximise our harvests by producing multiple crops in a year rather than a single crop, and the summer pruning (actually carried out late spring to late summer) also helps keep the size of vigorous growing mulberry trees down, so we can more easily harvest our trees, and net them if necessary.
When fruit is produce very high up on unmanaged trees, it’s usually eaten by birds, possums and other critters. Large unpruned trees also take up way too much space, especially in urban gardens.
A better strategy for managing mulberry trees is to keep them small and productive, rather than large and unharvestable, especially in urban gardens, and this can be achieved with summer pruning.