Best Mulberry for NY

nyboyDecember 27, 2012

I know a lot of people think lowly of mulberry trees, but I grewup eating berries from the one in our yard. I would like to plant one this spring and am looking for one with the best berries for zone 5. I am sure I would have to mailorder, where is the best place to order? Thank you.

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Performance varies from place to place. 'Illinois Everbearing' is the gold standard here - heavy production of tasty berries with good sweet/tart balance, over a 6-8 wk period. Certainly would be plenty hardy for you there.
However, I have a friend in z5 Flint, MI who says it's just so-so for him, and others are better - he's sent me scions of his 'best' one, and it's just so-so(if that good) here.

I've heard good reports on 'Stearns' and 'David Smith Everbearing'; Kokuso gets good reviews. I had 'Collier' for a few years, but here it was easily eclipsed by IE; Wellington has been a real dog for me - small tasteless berries, and crappy growth habit - but it was good enough for someone to select it (I think in NY); just doesn't work well here in my orchard.

I've never had a bad M.rubra(native red mulberry) - but the harvest season is short. I'm guessing M.nigra is out of the picture for you?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 12:04PM
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alan haigh

Illinois Everbearing is the best I've grown for the NY area where I manage orchards. This is mostly in and around Westchester county.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 3:26PM
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Thank you guys. Harvestman I am in the middle of Westchester in Harrison . Where would suggest I get a Illinois Everbearing near here?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 4:47PM
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alan haigh

It doesn't matter where you get it- you can order one from Burnt Ridge or Whitman Farms. The tree will be tiny but in 4 years very large and bearing fruit. Takes a lot of pruning to keep it from taking a whole lot of space.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:23PM
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I live in upstate NY and have planted lots of mulberries. The best trees I got were from Burnt Ridge nursery. I planted a Wellington variety (which I think may be just as good if not better than illinois everbearing), it made a handful of berries the first year I planted it.
Give mulberries lots of manure/compost and they will love you for it.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 9:00AM
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I'm growing kokuso and Ill. ever bearing on shallow- 2ft. deep- sandy loam soil- over limestone bedrock with seasonal drip irrigation actually it's an abandoned limestone q uarry that I'm reclaiming using the overburden that had been pushed to the side . After 4 years kokuso is my preference for varried reasons 1. it bears it's fruit over a 2 week+ season allowing me to put a 12x16ft plastic tarp below and shaking the branches to gather the ripest fruit every 5-7 days,typically 1-2qt. per 3"x15ft. south facing branch. 2.average size .75--1.0 x .33--.50 in. average size is exceeded 10-15 % in some seasons. 3. non staining.4. makes excellent 3 berry pie when mixed with last years frozen blackberries and some sliced frsh strawberries.5.tree 25hx20ft. yield -??- we stop picking after 2gal.6.vigorous growth,precocious. Ill.Ev.---tree does not like my site.bears fewer.smaller,less faverable to tarp collection berries. season is long 6 weeks+ but far fewer are available to harvest at one picking. Next year if soil becomes available I intend to increase it's depth-to see if it will help with size and quantity.------ Both trees were planted in the same year,2006. Hope this info. helps

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 1:31PM
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alan haigh

who carries kokuso? never heard of it.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 2:04PM
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Both Burnt Ridge and Whitman Farms carry Kokuso

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 2:20PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Kokuso is a Korean variety, which I believe has been mentioned positively on Gardenweb (by Lucky, I think). It's also sold by Raintree and Rolling River. Raintree spells it with an "a" at the end, instead of an "o", so it may be a different type. They also describe it as hardy to only zone 7, while the other 3 sources say zone 5 and/or Minnesota.

I got a really nice mulberry from Burnt Ridge last spring, so I went with them again this spring for Silk Hope and Kokuso. I also added an IE from Starks and an Oscar from Raintree. I'll be keeping all of them relatively small, in bush form, rather than large trees.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 3:04PM
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northshore, I appreciate your comments about harvest season. I've heard so many comments about the virtue of "everbearing" mulberries, but I've also thought it would be easier to harvest the mulberries if they ripened in a narrower window. It also seems like a longer ripening period gives birds and squirrels more time to discover the harvest (and beat me to it.) I have an Illinois Everbearing that did great for 4 years -- it started bearing a few fruits in its first or second year -- and then suddenly all but died. This year only one large branch of the tree broke dormancy, although in late winter/early spring some scions I took still looked green/alive. I do have one IE back-up that I grafted, but it's not in as good a location as the original tree -- too much shade. I also have a mulberry I grafted from a tasty tree I found growing on a friend's property. And I broke down and ordered a Silk Hope. I'd also like to try a Collier. It seems like there ought to be more named cultivars to choose from than there are.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 4:46PM
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Concur about IE. Harvesting by tarp is a major feature of mulberries, and you can only do it if the crop is concentrated in 2 or 3 weeks. IE, basically, protects your cherries and early peaches from the birds.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 5:27PM
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I've harvested IE - which bears over a 6-8 wk period - with a tarp; a short, confined bearing season is not necessarily required.
Yes, I initially planted mulberries as a diversion crop to protect cherries/strawberries - and because my wife wanted them - but, I much prefer the mulberries to any cherry, and haven't bothered with strawberries in a decade.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 9:35PM
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I, too, prefer the mulberry to any cherry.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 10:39PM
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1) When does Kokuso ripen?

2) How large does a Kokuso tree grow?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 10:55PM
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alan haigh

Now I remember the discussion of Kokuso and I had made a long lost mental note to acquire some wood. Anyone willing to send me a couple of pencils? I will send a pre-stamped and addressed envelope.

I've always read and it seems obvious that if you are harvesting fruit for processing you are better off with a variety that bears its crop in a short period. To me, mulberries are a forage fruit (when I'm walking the property I like eating a few handfuls) and I sure don't prefer them to a firm, black sweet cherry.

I also like to use mulberry trees as an early target site for squirrels before they damage my important fruit crops (I don't mind damaging limbs of a mulberry with buck shot). Whether they divert squirrels is an issue of some controversy but I've observed a positive correlation there as well, particularly if a tree is planted away from the orchard proper and close to other large trees where squirrels are most comfortable.

For wildlife an everbearing variety is highly preferable to one with a short harvest period (bird lovers, take note).

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 6:46AM
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Thank you guys Willis Orchard co has a weeping fruiting mullberry, has anyone grown one? I know most weeping are male, this company claims theirs are fruiting.Its very pricely so would like to hear from people who have one

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 2:22PM
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I used to have one in the previous house. It was a hardy, care-free productive little tree, but the berries were not elite and anyway it was abused by squirrels. It also would grow in size very slowly, like a couple of inches a year. Great for kids hiding under it. For my berries, I would go to some mulberries about 400 yds away, which had great fruit and could be tarp-harvested.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 3:13PM
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