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Old 26-09-2011, 01:17 PM
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Default Mulberry canker

Hi.
My 7-year-old black mulberry has canker and is looking very sorry for itself. Only half the tree has leaves, what few berries there were dropped off early, and it is definitely sicker than it was last year when it started looking unhappy. It's in a damp climate (East Cornwall) and sits in the middle of a lawn. The tree has grown slowly (the garden was laid on top of a former school playground, so I had to dig the hole in the Victorian equivalent of hard core) but until two years ago looked healthy and produced fruit.
I have two questions:
1. Is it better to cut off the affected branches immediately (but run the risk of excessive bleeding from the stumps) or wait until winter when the tree is dormant (but give the disease more time to spread)?
2. Do I treat it with anything after the pruning? Extra feed? Mulch?
3. If it is too far gone (whenever that is) so needs to come out, would it be safe to get another black mulberry? And should I avoid using the same spot?
Any tips would be great.

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Old 27-09-2011, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellomabel View Post
Hi.
My 7-year-old black mulberry has canker and is looking very sorry for itself. Only half the tree has leaves, what few berries there were dropped off early, and it is definitely sicker than it was last year when it started looking unhappy. It's in a damp climate (East Cornwall) and sits in the middle of a lawn. The tree has grown slowly (the garden was laid on top of a former school playground, so I had to dig the hole in the Victorian equivalent of hard core) but until two years ago looked healthy and produced fruit.
I have two questions:
1. Is it better to cut off the affected branches immediately (but run the risk of excessive bleeding from the stumps) or wait until winter when the tree is dormant (but give the disease more time to spread)?
2. Do I treat it with anything after the pruning? Extra feed? Mulch?
3. If it is too far gone (whenever that is) so needs to come out, would it be safe to get another black mulberry? And should I avoid using the same spot?
Any tips would be great.
My late mother had a similar problem with a black mulberry, likewise grown in the west country in the middle of a lawn - the canker got in to lawnmower damage, and the tree just never got going, and since in the end it was going backwards it got chucked out.

Bearing that in mind, ie, unless you do something drastic it is probably doomed anyway, what I would do would be to try drastic pruning to see if it would renovate. I have successfully done this with other fruit trees. I once had such bad cankering on an apple that I cut the entire crown of the tree off 8" above the graft - and the tree regenerated from that small remains. It is now a good tree, whereas previously it was going backwards. (In the mean time I planted another apple tree just in case.)

It is pretty nearly pruning time for it anyway, as soon as it is dormant in late autumn, so you may as well wait another month or two to get there, rather than risk heavy bleeding by pruning it now. Make sure you cut well back beyond the canker.

I gave my mulberry it quite a hard pruning last year, and it grew back very strongly, best crop ever. It's my policy to keep it well pruned back to ensure that i keep the tree within berry-picking height.

In the mediterranean, mulberries are used as street shade trees, and they are cut back very hard each year, in some cases to just a vertical stick with a thickening at the top, as you see for pollardded willows in Britain. Although sometimes you see one or two horizontal branches, in some cases linked to the next tree. But nevertheless, they prune them very hard indeed. So I reckon there is good potential for it to come back from a very hard prune. But likely you will get no fruit next year - I think that is one of the things they are trying to achieve when used as a street tree, hard pruning prevent it fruiting, because it makes a mess.
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Old 28-09-2011, 09:21 AM
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Thanks for the helpful answer. To take your points individually:

Quote:
Originally Posted by echinosum View Post
My late mother had a similar problem with a black mulberry, likewise grown in the west country in the middle of a lawn - the canker got in to lawnmower damage, and the tree just never got going, and since in the end it was going backwards it got chucked out.
In my defence there is a grass-free mulched ring around the tree so it's not due to lawnmower damage!

Quote:
Originally Posted by echinosum View Post
Bearing that in mind, ie, unless you do something drastic it is probably doomed anyway
If I do need to chuck it, would it be safe to plant another one in the same hole or do canker spores linger in the soil?

Quote:
Originally Posted by echinosum View Post
what I would do would be to try drastic pruning to see if it would renovate. ...It is pretty nearly pruning time for it anyway, as soon as it is dormant in late autumn, so you may as well wait another month or two to get there, rather than risk heavy bleeding by pruning it now. Make sure you cut well back beyond the canker.
So prune in, say, November? And should I apply anything to the stumps to stop any bleeding? I'm assuming there's no point in giving the tree a feed at the same time as it will be asleep, but what about in the spring?

Thanks again for the helpful info.
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Old 28-09-2011, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by hellomabel View Post
So prune in, say, November? And should I apply anything to the stumps to stop any bleeding? I'm assuming there's no point in giving the tree a feed at the same time as it will be asleep, but what about in the spring?
Prune once you can tell it is dormant, because the leaves are properly falling off, whenever that is. In mild autumn, it may take a little longer. No hint of autumn on mine yet, we are still picking berries...

RHS says don't do anything about any bleeding, but pruning in the dormant period it shouldn't bleed much.

In general mulberry trees shouldn't need feeding. With that Victorian hardcore, and deep tree roots, there should be plenty of good stuff for it down there. And in general one doesn't feed sickly plants.

I think if you are replacing a tree with another one of the same type, it is always a good idea to plant it somewhere slightly different.
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Old 28-09-2011, 06:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echinosum View Post
Prune once you can tell it is dormant... but pruning in the dormant period it shouldn't bleed much. I think if you are replacing a tree with another one of the same type, it is always a good idea to plant it somewhere slightly different.
Thank you. I'll try chopping it before I give it the final chop though.


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Old 28-09-2011, 07:43 PM posted to rec.gardens.edible
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Default Mulberry canker

On Sep 26, 8:17*am, hellomabel
wrote:
Hi.
My 7-year-old black mulberry has canker and is looking very sorry for
itself. Only half the tree has leaves, what few berries there were
dropped off early, and it is definitely sicker than it was last year
when it started looking unhappy. It's in a damp climate (East Cornwall)
and sits in the middle of a lawn. The tree has grown slowly (the garden
was laid on top of a former school playground, so I had to dig the hole
in the Victorian equivalent of hard core) but until two years ago looked
healthy and produced fruit.
I have two questions:
1. Is it better to cut off the affected branches immediately (but run
the risk of excessive bleeding from the stumps) or wait until winter
when the tree is dormant (but give the disease more time to spread)?
2. Do I treat it with anything after the pruning? Extra feed? Mulch?
3. If it is too far gone (whenever that is) so needs to come out, would
it be safe to get another black mulberry? And should I avoid using the
same spot?
Any tips would be great.

--
hellomabel


My limited experience with fruit says do not replant the same thing in
the same place. Possibly check with your local extention agent though.
Ferdie
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Old 29-09-2011, 01:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by View Post

My limited experience with fruit says do not replant the same thing in
the same place. Possibly check with your local extention agent though.
Ferdie
Thank you, that sounds right. (Not sure what an extention agent is though - is that the same as a nursery?)


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