Mulberry decline

creekweb(6,7)July 21, 2014

My IE mulberry has only had very small and few leaves this year. About a year ago the trunk split during a thunderstorm so that half of the cross-sectional base of the tree was severed, but I expected that this would only present structural problems as a good 9 inch circumference of cambium was left intact at the base of the tree. Mulberries grow so quickly that I thought if I supported the tree temporarily that the trunk would eventually grow thick enough again to support itself. But the tree is barely growing at all. No evidence of any disease process or insect damage. Question is, should I attribute this poor growth to the trunk split (the obvious choice) without further investigation, or are these two not so clearly cause and effect? P

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Maybe it's damaged more than you thought. Sounds like it's not able to transport enough water to the top to support it's former size. But I'd expect it to send out a strong shoot down low if that was the case.

IE is supposed to be pretty hardy but could it possibly be winter injury?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:10PM
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Thanks Fruitnut for your input. This is a fuzzy photo of the base of the tree - the right half is intact and the left half split off. The circumference of the trunk is about 18 inches and the tree is about 20 feet tall. Do you think that there is enough damage here to account for the poor vigor? I don't think the lack of leaves is winter injury because my other IE mulberries showed no changes from usual.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 12:52AM
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danzeb(7a long island)

If it were my tree, I'd do some heavy pruning, about 1/4 of the branches, leaving the healthiest.. Perhaps there was some root damage and the root system can't support the whole tree. IE are so vigorous that the tree should regrow after the pruning.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 5:41PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I'd say it's the injury. Must be worse than it appears. There is still a chance it will send up a strong shoot that would make a new tree. If not I'd prune back some but not until next spring. It needs the foliage now to build what reserves it can for winter.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:55PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

The brown sap there doesn't look good. I don't know much about mulberry problems but my naive answer would follow fruitnuts.

My Kokuso mulberry died back to the ground last winter. Fortunately it is coming back strongly from the base.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 8:52PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

My IE lost one of it's largest branches year before last during an early, heavy snow, just as it was breaking bud. Maybe the wood is more brittle. Mine also just sat there the whole year but it has now taken off quite a bit. Mine is not nearly as big as yours yet. I would say prune it and make sure it is watered and fertilized adequately.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 12:12PM
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Thanks for the responses - very helpful: made me recall that a year ago when the injury occurred, the tree had fallen about 20 degrees from its upright position onto a fence when I found it, and I had ratcheted it back up. The fall and restoration could certainly have caused damage to the roots that isn't apparent just looking at the tree. So I'm sold on the idea of the injury causing the lack of vigor.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 12:59PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

The bark could have been pulled loose from the wood the entire way around the tree. Is the bark hollow sounding all the way around down near the break? If so the tree has been ringed just as if a beaver had munched down. Your best bet would be a strong shoot from below the injury. But there may not be any buds down there.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 2:02PM
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The bark above the level of the soil is intact. My guess is that the visible injury is not the most severe one. When the tree tilted over the fulcrum was likely below the level of the soil, and it is there that the most severe damage probably occurred. This would explain why the tree is not sending up any new shoots from the base. With most other trees I would think the prognosis with this type of injury would be poor, but mulberries are so scrappy, I'm somewhat optimistic about recovery.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 4:33PM
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