Worthy Red Mulberry contest (with cash reward)
This is a contest I feel strongly about because currently there are no commercially available “pure” cultivars of our native Red Mulberry. I hope it gets a lot of support.
Link: Contest Rules and Instructions (CONTEST HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO JULY 2023)
Reward for your Efforts
"The everbearing varieties will continue to bear from early May to late July, a period of nearly three months. I believe that a single tree would support two hogs weighing 100 pounds each and keep them in a thrifty condition for the time that they are producing fruit. They could be planted about 35 trees to the acre."
(Letter, Sept. 2, 1927 from Professor J. C. C. Price, Horticulturist, Agricultural and Mechanical College, Mississippi)
"The everbearing mulberry in this country is so common as to occasion very little comment; in fact, they become unpopular on account of their profuse bearing, especially if there are not pigs and chickens enough to pick them up." (Letter, John S. Kerr, Texas Nursery Company, Sherman, Texas, November 19, 1913.)
If your planted mulberry is a grafted or cutting grown plant from a producing mother tree, you should be able to start enjoying your mulberries the very next year (Morus nigra can take several years to start producing). Seedling trees can take up to ten years or more. Also, seedling trees can be either male or female (referred to as dioecious), or can also have male and female catkins on the same plant (referred to as monoecious). So buyer beware: It can be a huge disappointment to have waited many years only to find male catkins. But before cutting the tree down, wait a few weeks and look for female catkins (fruit), as they often appear later than male catkins, in the chance that you might have a monoecious tree. Don't be disappointed if your fruit is smaller than expected, as this is normal for the first few years of production, especially with seedling trees.
Dried mulberries are a great snack and are almost addictive when placed on top of granola or cereal. Dry in a food dehydrator at 135 degrees F. for 14 to 24 hours (They will be crunchy when completely dried). Even unripe mulberries taste good when dried.
Fruit can be handpicked or … a sheet or tarp can be placed under a limb and the limb shook (Doesn't work for all cultivars). Ripe fruit will fall and masses of fruit can be gathered in short order. Pick through the harvest, removing leaves, twigs, and over-ripe and under-ripe fruit. Slightly unripe fruit can be sorted into a separate container and will ripen in the refrigerator in a day or so.
If bugs are a concern (see section under "Growing" to manage insect pests on fruit), dump your harvest into a clean bucket. Add 4 tablespoons of salt to a quart of cold water, mix well, and pour over mulberries. Add more saltwater as needed to cover the fruit. Most of the bugs and larvae will float to the surface within an hour and can be removed by dumping the berries into a colander and rinsing them well with water. Place dark towels on a table and spread out mulberries into a single layer to dry. Mulberries only last a few days in the refrigerator, so freezing or drying maybe your best option for long-term availability.
Mulberry stains can be removed from hands by squeezing an unripe mulberry and spreading the juice on the stains.
Mulberry stains on clothing can be removed by using your washing machine's lowest water level setting and filling to that level with warm water. With the washing machine agitating, add half a scoop of "Oxiclean", then add the stained clothes and allow to agitate for a minute or so. Stop the agitation and allow the clothes to set for two to four hours, then continue to wash in the normal fashion. "Whites" can be made stain-free by washing in your normal fashion, but with a cup of bleach added (no "Oxiclean" necessary).