Mulberry Orchard Design Questions

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by ductape, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. ductape

    ductape Junior Member

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    Hello, out in California, USA here and I am looking for a supplier to either purchase or have propagated stock for a planned mulberry orchard, primarily morus alba but willing to look at or consider other trees. We also would like to find a supplier for prosopis glandulosa which we plan to use as the main companion tree for the mulberries.

    Our main yield we are looking at is primarily fruit for either drying or processing into other products (sweetener or mulberry wine), but we would like to reserve the option to try out silk production (hence the focus on morus alba) and maybe down the road using the leaves as fodder, maybe for pigs(this orchard will be in an oak wooodland area, acorns!).

    So after finding the source for our trees, my secondary question is related to the paragraph above, does anyone have any experience with mulberry production and yields?

    About the land:
    Situated approx. 2,500 feet above sea level. Very dry and hot summer, about 19 inches or less of rainfall per year, mostly during the cool season. Lots of oak, california bay, buckeye, manzanita, willow in the wet spots.

    Very steep in some places, some meadows to work with here and there. 4 dams located around the property, 2 up high that are smaller and the larger dam and silt pond at the bottom of the primary valley. There are several springs around the site, most of them running all year to some degree, one right above our planned orchard, no dam though...yet.

    We plan to mound and keyline one meadow that is approximately 1.35 hectares for our orchard.

    My third and final question would be spacing for the mulberries and the rows. We are hoping to plant a prosopis for every mulberry and use the prosopis as chop and drop pioneer. Our initial thoughts are to space the mulberries 8 feet apart with a prosopis between each one. The mulberries will be pruned at about 6 feet high each season to maintained in a bush form for tighter density and human access. Any thoughts on a good size (my guess is keyline plow width) for lanes between the rows and also thoughts on mounding with a disc mounder and keylines for water harvesting (as opposed to swales) are appreciated.

    I hope I was clear there, any questions please dont hesitate to ask. I will keep a close eye on this thread.

    peas
     
  2. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    Regarding the Keyline plan, it will be beneficial to plan the orchard around the Keyline pattern allowing water to run out towards the ridge. Setting up the mounds with this pattern and the plowing the inter-rows will be much more logical for future users of the system, as well as anyslashing and ongoing maintenence.
    A 3x3m spacing should be enough if you are keeping the trees harvested, but you might want to look into how the roots are formed on the Morus sp. in case the have a shallow root system that could be cut by the Keyline at narrow spacings. The Mesquite are fine with a deep tap root.
    Mulberry apparently coppices well so that would be handy in a tree fodder situation.
    Mulberries were traditionally used for support trees to, which is due to their lovely shape i assume, so this may be a stacking option for you.
     
  3. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I believe Mulberry is N fixing while proving fruit for both humans and birds, which is what you want since birds do a massive amount of negative insect eating when things are in balance.
     
  4. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    They are Moraceae, not Fabaceae. Casuarinaceae buck that trend, but without hitting up Wikipedia, I'm not sure how many other families N-fix.

    Maybe you are thinking they are pioneering thanks to the massive leaf drop, which would raise soil health through the breakdown.
     
  5. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I wasn't thinking of it as a pioneer, well, maybe it is.. but I seem to remember the tree (Mulberry) goes into the low tree layer of a food forest & other trees such as apple actually benefit from the Mulberry tree & both are excellent poultry forage.

    I hope you aren't planning to have 1 type of tree for the orchard besides the prosopis, forests, any kind, need biodiversity and by the look of your strategy I feel you could wind up with a lot of things out of balance since by and large you have 1 monocrop w/ a pioneer tree.

    The more bio-diverse the food forest is, the healthier it is, it really is that simple.
     
  6. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    easy to strike

    you need to find some good parent trees
    they will be dormant now so go get some freebies
    i would be interested in silkworms does any one have any in australia?
     
  7. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Occupation:
    Farm manager/ educator
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    Hunter Valley New South Wales
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    warm temperate - some frost - changing every year
    consider grapes when planning a mulbery orchard - they go well together.
     
  8. garnede

    garnede Junior Member

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    8' is way too close. 20 to 30 foot would be much better. Mulberry can have lots of low branches tat are 10-12' long. At this spacing it would give much more room for guilding and having enough species to have a healthy eco system.
     
  9. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    level swales may be more effeciant than the key line system ,they provide a great environment for growing acorns mulberries etc
    IF you do the engineering correctly
    i just advised my sister to prepare a site in her front garden for a mulberry does any one know where she could get a fairly advanced specimen next winter she is in nth sydney
    i recon they could be one of the ultimate educational trees beacause of the silk worms
    when i worked at a mental assylum one of the patients always walked around with a cardboard box i had to ask "whats in the box" "silkworms!"
    "what do silkworms eat ?" i asked genuinely not knowing "Dont you know anything ! MULBERRYLEAVES DUMMY"


    which proves its no measure of welbeing to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society
     
  10. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    The advantage of using a keyline pattern in a commercial layout, which seems to be what ductape is going for here, is that the rows will be of equal distance apart. This will allow access for machinery easier and allow more stems per hectare than a contoured swale system, while still having the advantage of harvesting water.
     
  11. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    i dont understand

    why cant you have even rows
     
  12. kimbo.parker

    kimbo.parker Junior Member

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    my thinking

    just a punt ....but if the swale follows a contour, and the row follows the swale, how does it extend that the rows will be equally spaced, contours vary with the topography, the topography denotes the lines.
    sorry i didn't read enough of the block details....

    on such a small site - couple of hectares - and talk of keyline systems-
    isn't the scale a tad small.

    two notches above a back yard?.....
    with regard to planting densities.....
    thick, then thin.

    with regard to mono culture or di culture - moot point - a fair approximation of the scale nature would stack a mulberry cluster, i feel.

    my thinking is that a mulberry does not fix nitrogen.,,,,

    propagation is good via cuttings - youtube has a vid on propagating mulberries by cuttings.

    dam worthy tree a mulberry -
    grows very big, but that takes many years,,,,incorporate the temporal element in your design.

    let there be no confusion - you don't need to design for 10 years time, today.
    the right planting density for a decades time - will limit your years of productivity until those design objectives are realised (over time).

    todays design is just todays. if it is not redundant in a decade you have stuffed up.
    change is the only certainty....deal with stuff as it turns on, when it turns on.
    in a decade you can redesign around your successes, which may be some big mulberries.

    i find it staggering, that a player did not know what silk worms eat.
     
  13. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    correct, mulberries do not fix N, I was wrong, I recant, etc.

    However, if one was to bench on contour with appropriate swales one could not only get in machinery but also plant with proper spacing, and numerous other plantings.
     
  14. ductape

    ductape Junior Member

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    Hey folks, thanks so much for your replies.

    To clarify, we are not planting a food forest in this situation. This is not a place where many people live, this is marginal disturbed land somewhat outside any remarkable settlement, yet close enough for periodic visits, think: Zone 4. If we planted a food forest, it would not be for humans because the food essentially would be dropping and feeding deer, wild boar, mice, some cows that wander around, etc. What we are doing is shwoing that marginal land can be brought into a more passive style production while regenerating it from disturbance.

    The idea is low maintenance orchard, visit once per month with a yield we can take to market. This is under 2 hectares of orchard surrounded by regenerating native oak woodland, I am not particularly worried about mono-cropping effects here; if we stopped maintaining the orchard, I am confident the native forest would simply move in of its own accord in rapid time.

    tight spacing suits our goals and management style. The trees will be pruned to ~6 feet high each fall, biomass will be dropped or used as a resource for some other system. in essence, each tree will be held at a diameter of 6 feet also. WIth 8 foot spacing that gives a 2 foot gap between each tree. IN the early phases we will have our prosopis there, managed as a shrub until the mulberries actually get to that 6 foot diameter. Later one, the prosopis will hopefully still be present in their original locations as well as suckering and seeding themselves around the area. All the prosopois will be kept as shop and drop shrubs.

    AGain thanks for the comments and ideas. I am still after the answers to my original questions if anyone has them:

    1. does anyone know a source for mulberry cuttings/seedlings in California or somewhere fairly close?
    2. does anyone have experience with mulberry cultivation and handling the various yields? Advice?
    3. Has anyone used this style of mounds and rows which is proscribed by Mr. Doherty in a thread on this forums, e.g. mounds on keyline done with a mounder of some sort and keyline plow between.
     
  15. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    A food forest doesn't need to be zone 4, in fact, IMO, you have your zones a tad mixed up.

    Your orchard is zone 3, and animals, as well as other plants besides mulberries should be in there... and I dont not mean wild animals, they can be, but I meant also cattle, pigs, goats, poultry can all be inside the orchard with proper preparation and insight.

    I disagree with taking your nutrients (Chop n drop) removed from your mulberries to be taken elsewhere. Every single tree in the world needs fungal growth in the soil around the trees.

    Also, how do you have so much land in SF, aren't you outside the city or is this going into the Presidio?

    If you are truly in SF, you have a lot more problems then the things you are leading in with up above such as constant salt spray from the bay in the form of fog and constant breathing of the bay which extends all the way to Redding, California some 250+ miles North and down to Bakersfield.

    For those that don't know. Each morning and evening the SF Bay area "breathes" The fog rolls out in the morning literally pulling air from the Sacremento Valley towards San Fran. Each evening, roughly around 3:30pm PST the flows are markedly reversed. A front of salty air fog forms off shore of San Fran and is pulled into the SF Bay area, and then up towards Richmond bridge and into the Sacremento Valley again. This cycle repeats daily.

    Good luck.
     
  16. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    I have seen and used mounding in contour strip forestry and seen the results in conventional forestry.
    In the conventional forestry i havent seen it to be a permanent feature on the landscape because they are generally only a foot higher than the original ground level and they tend to seettle after a few years.
    Mind you this is when glysophate is used in the establishment phase so there isnt the the vegetation to hold it together.
    Perhaps there are slight indentations in the soil but this will be negligable on water harvesting compared to what your plow will be doing in the interows. Although the mounds and channels will have a great effect on harvesting any runoff while the trees get their roots down in the first few years.
    Where possible, this will be the preferred design and implementaion of orchards and forestry that I will be using.
     
  17. ductape

    ductape Junior Member

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    I wish you had read the thread fully and understood what was said, clearly you have not done that yet. I welcome your input but unfortunately it is not based upon the assessed situation.
     
  18. ductape

    ductape Junior Member

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    I wanted to add that this is a woefully inaccurate assessment of the state of California. Not only does the fog reach into variable distances, but it also is predominate during the summers and mostly absent during the winters. There is also major variation during each season, and each year of course. Salty air is hardly infiltrating very far inland, not usually of a concern to anyone who cannot see the ocean on a clear day.

    Do I need to reiterate that this is not a food forest project and that it is decidedly Zone 4 in definition? I appreciate the sentiment, design ideas, and dogma, but food forestry is not the only item on the menu.
     
  19. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I am sorry you are misunderstanding that this is permaculture, and not monoculture. Have a good one.
     
  20. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    At what square meterage does a system turn from polyculture to monoculture?

    I see practical commercial designs as being more of a guild than a polyculture to make harvesting, maintenence, etc. practical and time efficient, which to me is permaculture. Look at agroforestry practised in France and at the Food Forest where grain is grown between rows of poplar,and perhaps a nitrogn fixing legume grown with the main crop. Is this polyculture or using the niche of each plant in a guild/ support relationship?

    Perhaps Ductape can elucidate what his groundcovers will be as well as birds, mammals and reptiles that will be in the system. Pigs and geese perhaps somepoint down the line.
     

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