In commercial cultivation, the mulberry garden is generally established through stem cuttings. However, due to variation in soil, moisture status, fluctuations in temperature and non-adoption of recommended methods of planting by farmers, the initial establishment is not always satisfactory having large number of gaps. As an alternate method, planting saplings instead of cuttings is found to be advantageous as it takes cares of variation in growth.
What is sapling?
Saplings are rooted cuttings and is used as planting material, the saplings of specific age, that is, 100-120 days for low or high bush and about 240 days for small trees are ideal. Because of well-developed root system, saplings get established quickly and grow vigorously.
Preparation of nursery bed
A flat land nearer to water source is preferred as nursery site. Well-drained land with loamy soil is ideal for nursery. The land must be ploughed or dug 30-40 cm deep and allowed for weathering in sun for 2-3 weeks. The land is again ploughed two or three times to bring the soil to fine tilth. Rootstocks, pebbles and weeds are removed at the time of ploughing and the land is leveled.
Preparation of cuttings
Plants selected for preparation of cuttings must be healthy and free from scale insect, tukra infestation etc., The shoots should be 6 to 8 month old and should have attained a thickness of 10 to 15 mm diameter. The stout lower portion and tender, green upper portion of the shoots are not fit to be used as cuttings. The middle portion of uniform thickness only to be used . Cuttings for raising 3 to 4 months old saplings are prepared. For raising 6 to 9 month old saplings, cuttings are made about 25 cm size. Sharp knife must be used to get clean-cut ends without damaging the bark.
Transportation of cuttings and storing
Cuttings are to be planted immediately after preparation. due to unavoidable circumstances, if mulberry cuttings have to be transported over long distance or stored for 2-3 days, the same should be done carefully so that the cuttings do not dry.
Nursery beds should be adequately watered and made wet one or two days earlier to planting. Mark each row at a distance of 20 or 30 cm as required, with the help of a thread. In each row by using a pointed stick, make small hole at 8 or 10 cm distance, to insert cuttings. To avoid fungal attack, cuttings may be dipped in 0.2 % Bavistin solution for 10 to 15 minutes. Cuttings must be planted in the hole in a slightly slanting position, bud pointing up, exposing only one bud above the surface of the soil. The soil around cutting must be pressed firmly, after planting.
One irrigation must be provided immediately after planting. Subsequently, irrigation is given once in 4 to 5 days in the case of sandy loam and red soil and once in 6 to 7 days in the case of black cotton or clayey soil.
Nursery beds must be kept free from weeds. At least two rounds of manual weeding are required, first 25 to 30 days and second after 55 to 60 days of planting.
Chemical fertilizer must be applied in the nursery when saplings attain 20 to 25 cm height in about 55 to 60 days after planting, preferably after the second round of weeding. Following this. 500 g of ammonium sulphate or 250 g of urea can be applied per bed, followed by light irrigation.
The most common disease noticed in nursery is least spot. Application of 0.1 % Bavistin twice at an interval of 15 to 20 days is recommended. Spraying of 0.1 % Rogor to control thrips and 0.1 % Metasystax to control mites are also recommended in case such infestation occurs.
Uprooting, transporting and planting of saplings.
Three to four months old saplings are ready for transportation to establish bush system of plantation. For tree plantation or for raising high bush adopting wider spacing and high crown height, 5 to 6 months old saplings are used.
Two or three days before uprooting of saplings, nursery bed should be adequately watered for easy removal. Nursery bed should be adequately watered for easy removal. Nursery bed is loosened with the help of crowbar or guddali or pick axe to a depth of 30 cm and saplings are taken out one by one, without damaging the main roots. After uprooting sapling must be packed in bundles, covered with wet gunny cloth or green leaves and taken to the planting site during cool hours. Saplings must be planted immediately after uprooting.