a branch of sericulture involving the cultivation of mulberries for food or as planting material. Mulberries serve as the main food for the silkworm.
In the USSR the mulberry is distributed in the republics of Middle Asia and Transcaucasia, in the Moldavian SSR, and in southern regions of the Ukrainian SSR and the RSFSR. Outside the USSR mulberry cultivation is most highly developed in China, Japan, and Italy. The plant is cultivated to a lesser extent in France, Spain, Bulgaria, Rumania, India, Iran, and other countries of Asia and Europe. Insignificant amounts are raised in Africa and in a few countries of Central and South America, including Mexico and Brazil. The manufacture of silk fabrics from artificial and synthetic fibers is diminishing the role of mulberry cultivation throughout the world.
Mulberry cultivation includes the planting and care of food plantings, the production of seed crops and seed plantings, the preparation and storage of seeds, the cultivation of planting material in nurseries, the development of new varieties, strain testing, regionalization, and disease and pest control.
Mulberries are grown for food in plantations of shrubs, trees, and combinations of the two. Trees may be planted in rows along the borders of cultivated lands, irrigation canals, roads, and ravines, and trees and shrubs may also be mixed with other trees and shrubs. Plantations are the most convenient form for care and operation. Diagrams of rows and interrows of trees are used to provide the best conditions for the growth and care of the mulberries and the use of interrows for plantings of other crops. The care of plantings involves loosening the soil of the interrows and in the rows and applying fertilizers. In irrigated regions of Middle Asia and Transcaucasia, five to ten irrigations are completed during the growing period, using 900–1,000 cu m of water per hectare (ha).
Mulberries are planted in the spring. The plants are propagated from seeds or vegetatively. A total of 10–20 kg of seed is sown per ha, with a germination of no less than 50 percent. Nurseries on irrigated lands produce 600–800 seedlings and 32,000–35,000 transplants per ha. Mulberries are grown for food as plantings of selected varieties, plantings propagated by grafting selected cultivated varieties onto local mulberries, hybrid plantings, plantings propagated by hybrid seeds, and ungrafted plantings of local varieties. With advanced agricultural techniques, yields of mulberry leaves reach 9–10 tons per ha on shrub plantations and 10–15 kg from each adult tree on tree plantations.