The sericulture industry has its three sections. These sections are : (i) Mulberry tree cultivation and rearing of silkworms with the production of cocoon-section one, (ii) reeling of silk from the cocoon—section two and (iii) weaving of cloth with silk fibre—section three.
Types of Mulberry Tree
Mulberry trees do have redeeming qualities, though, and one of the most outstanding is the smallest care they require. Before we learn about how to care for mulberry trees, here’s a brief outline of the three types of mulberry trees most commonly grown.
The most flavorful berries come from the black mulberry (Morus nigra). These trees are native to western Asia and are only adaptable to USDA zone 6 and warmer.
Hardier than black mulberries, red mulberries (Morus rubra) are native to North America where they thrive in deep rich soils found along bottomlands and streams.
White mulberries (Morus alba tatarica) were imported from China, introduced into colonial America for silkworm production. White mulberries have since naturalized and hybridized with the native red mulberry.
MULBERRY TREE CULTIVATION
The larvae of mulberry silkworm thrive well on the mulberry leaf. The leaf of mulberry tree is the only food of the silkworm. As they are depending on single type of plant, so they are regarded as monophagous insect. The larva get the protein content from the mulberry leaf, as the protein is essential for the silk. So the proper cultivation and production of good quality of mulberry tree leaf with high protein content are essential for the development of sericulture. The cultivating varieties of mulberry tree are the five species under the genus Morus, namely Morus indica, Morus alba, Morus nigra, Morus rubra and Morus tartarica.
The growth of these plants are very rapid with abundant foliage. These plants are deep rooted and perennial one. These plants are cultivated for the collection of leaves and leaves are collected four to five times in a year. The mulberry plants are cultivated either by seeds or vagetative methods. The seeds that give rise to plant take much time than the vegetative methods. Hence the modern sericulturists are practising the vegetative methods. Vegetative methods of cultivation are done either by cuttings or graftings or layers. Cuttings are done from the one year old branches of the mulberry plant and 75 cm. long pieces are made from the branch ; each piece of such cuttings must contain three or four buds. These cuttings are planted in row system in the well ploughed and well manured field in the month of June. Each cutting is allowed to grow upto 3-4 feet height to form the bushy plant. Thus the bush mulberry is grown from cuttings and leaves can be plucked from the 4-5 months old bush mulberry tree. In one year old bush mulberry, first pruning is to be done. From bush mulberry, leaves can be plucked four to six times in a year. The bush mulberry yields good quality of leaves for about 25 to 30 years provided proper manuring and pruning are to be done. Manure helps the plants for proper growth and pruning helps the plant for development of new branches with new leaves.
In tropical areas where the growth of the mulberry plant is continuous throughout the year, silkworms are reared five to six times in a year. Silkworm rearing depends on the availability of the mulberry tree and its leaf as well as facilities for rearing of silkworms, i.e., suitable room and equipments.
The tree also has an unwelcome habit of becoming invasive. Unfortunately, this brought the growing of mulberry trees to a screeching halt in any but the most rural areas.
Care for a Mulberry Tree
There really is not too much to worry about with this hardy specimen. The trees are fairly drought tolerant but will benefit from some irrigation during the dry season. Mulberries do well without additional fertilization. Mulberries are even primarily free from most pests and disease.