What is Moriculture?
Moriculture can be defined as the process of cultivating mulberry plants in order to obtain feed for silkworms. In India, close to 3,00,000 hectares of farmland is known to be committed to the cultivation of mulberry plants. Initially, the approximate yield of each hectare was known to range from 12000 to 15000 kilograms of mulberry leaves. However, advancements in the field of agricultural technology have brought about a great increase in the productivity of these farmlands. For example, the plantation of high yielding varieties of the mulberry plant and the proper maintenance of the mulberry plantation can result in each hectare offering a yield ranging from 25000 to 35000 kilograms of mulberry leaves. It is important to note that moriculture plays a vital role in the practice of sericulture.
Ideal Climatic Conditions for Moriculture
It can be noted that the climatic conditions required for moriculture can be found in almost all states in India. The ideal temperature for the growth of mulberry plants is known to be 24 degrees celsius. However, these plants can thrive in the temperature range of 18 to 38 degrees celsius. Due to the relatively high irrigation requirements of the mulberry plant, the ideal season for the plantation of mulberry plants is the pre-monsoon season.
Which Type of Soil is Favourable for Moriculture?
The type of soil plays a significant role in the optimum and healthy growth of any plant. Despite the fact that the mulberry plant can grow in a wide range of soils, it does have certain soil requirements. For example, since the mulberry plant is a deep-rooted plant, it requires a type of soil which has a good capacity to hold water. Furthermore, this plant also thrives in relatively porous soils in which the air can penetrate to relatively deep regions. Finally, the plant is known to thrive in the soils that are slightly acidic in nature. The ideal pH range of the soil for moriculture ranges from 6.2 to 6.8.
How are the Mulberry Plants Propagated in Moriculture?
It can be noted that the mulberry plant can be propagated via two different methods, namely sexual mulberry propagation and asexual mulberry propagation. The sexual propagation of the mulberry plant involves the plantation of seeds. Before the plantation of seeds, the land must be suitably prepared and the seeds must be filtered based on their quality. Care must be taken to maintain at least 6% moisture in the seeds during their storage.
The asexual propagation of the mulberry plant can be achieved via one of three different methods, as listed below.
- Propagation of mulberry plant via cutting
- Propagation of mulberry plant via grafting
- Propagation of mulberry plant via budding
However, it is important to note that the most common method that is used for the asexual propagation of the mulberry plant is through mulberry cuttings.
How are the Leaves Harvested from the Mulberry Plant?
Once the mulberry plants have grown to a certain extent, their leaves can be harvested and used as feed for silkworms. The harvesting of the mulberry leaf is a time-sensitive task since fully mature mulberry leaves have relatively lower nutritional value than the leaves of the partially mature mulberry plant. If the leaves are not harvested at the right time, the lack in the nutritional value of the mulberry leaves will manifest as diseases in the silkworm that consume these leaves. The two most common methods of harvesting leaves from the mulberry plant are leaf picking and branch cutting. Another important method for the harvesting of mulberry leaves is the harvesting of the entire shoot (also known as whole shoot harvesting).
Harvesting of Mulberry Leaves via Leaf Picking
The harvesting of mulberry leaves via leaf picking involves the plucking of individual leaves from the mulberry plant. Therefore, this method of leaf harvesting in moriculture is considered to be highly labour intensive. However, it is interesting to note that this is the most common method that is employed for the harvesting of mulberry leaves in India. It can also be noted that mulberry leaves can be harvested approximately five to six times from each plant in a year. The types of leaves that are harvested via leaf picking usually depends on the stage the silkworm has reached in its life cycle. For example, relatively young silkworms are usually fed with tender leaves whereas the relatively old silkworms are fed slightly mature mulberry leaves.
Harvesting of Mulberry Leaves via Branch Cutting
This method of harvesting mulberry leaves involves the cutting of entire branches. The advantages of this method of mulberry leaf harvesting over the harvesting of mulberry leaves via leaf picking are listed below.
- Since it is easier to cut off the entire branch than picking off each individual leaf, the branch cutting method of mulberry leaf harvesting is less labour intensive. Therefore, the labour costs associated with this method is also lower.
- The lifespans of the leaves are relatively higher than the lifespans of the leaves generated by leaf picking. This is because the leaves maintain their freshness for longer durations when they are still attached to the branches.
- The preservation and the maintenance of leaf quality become easier when the leaves are harvested via branch cutting. It also becomes easier to feed the silkworms when the leaves are extracted in this manner.
- Another key advantage of branch cutting is that the wastage of the mulberry leaves is minimized when this method is adopted.
- Finally, the maintenance of hygienic conditions also becomes easier when the mulberry leaves are harvested via branch cutting.
Apart from these points, it can also be noted that mulberry leaf harvesting via branch cutting is often associated with the highest leaf utilization by the silkworms.
Frequently Asked Questions on Moriculture
Under what climatic conditions can mulberry plants be grown?
It must be noted that in almost all states in India, the climatic conditions needed for moriculture can be found. The optimum temperature for mulberry plant growth is considered to be about 24 degrees celsius. These plants can, however, thrive within a temperature range of 18 to 38 degrees celsius. The pre-monsoon season is the best season for planting mulberry plants, due to the relatively high irrigation requirements of the mulberry plant.
What are the best soils for moriculture?
The soil type plays an important part in any plant’s optimum and safe growth. Although the mulberry plant can grow in a large variety of soils, it does have certain requirements for soil. As the mulberry plant, for instance, is a deep-rooted plant, it needs a form of soil that has a strong capacity to hold water. In addition, this plant also thrives in relatively porous soils where the air can penetrate to relatively deep areas. Lastly, the plant is considered to grow in naturally slightly acidic soils. For moriculture, the ideal pH range of the soil ranges from 6.2 to 6.8.
What are the advantages of branch cutting when compared to leaf picking?
For the harvesting of mulberry leaves, branch cutting is a more suitable method than leaf picking because of the following reasons:
The leaf lifespans are relatively higher than the leaf lifespan produced by picking the leaves. This is because when already attached to the branches the leaves retain their freshness for longer durations.
Furthermore, when the leaves are harvested through branch cutting, the preservation and maintenance of leaf quality become simpler. Food for the silkworms often becomes simpler when the leaves are harvested in this way. Also, the branch cutting method of mulberry leaf harvesting is less labour intensive, as it is easier to cut off the entire branch than picking off each individual leaf. The labour costs associated with this approach are, therefore, much lower.
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