CLSU’s Mulberry trees and silkworms
The Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in Munoz, Neuva Ecija hs launched its own sericulture project.
Supervised by Filomena F. Campos, CLSU director of research, the project complements research being undertaken by the Philippine Textile Research Institute and U.P. Los Banos. At CLSU, concentration is on mulberry production and silkworm culture. At UP Los Banos, the stress is on breeding work.
“CLSU’s involvement in sericulture started in 1974 after Mrs. Imelda Marcos encouraged PTRI to go into sericulture research ,” says Campos. “The PTRI asked us to join the project and we agreed.”
“Our researches here at CLSU test the silkworms bred by UP Los Banos and produce silkworm cocoons for processing into raw silk by PTRI.”
Sericulture not a new thing at CLSU, Campos points out. In 1972, UNESCO plant protection expert Abdullah Al Azawi grew silkworm in CLSU and trained Ricardo B. Bandala (now Campos’research aide) on sericulture. However, work on the project stopped in 1973 when Al azawi left the Philippines for another foreign assignment.
“We are reviving what Professor Al Azawi started”, says Campos.”But this time the project is on a larger scale.”
Mulberry leaves are the food of silkworms. CLSU’s teo=hectare mulberry farm is in Bario Osmena. The trees were planted in October 1974 and have been pruned twice to maintaintheir one-meter height: this is to facilitate harvesting of leaves.
A Korean sericulture expert will soon arrive and train a select group of CLSU researchers. Says Campos: “We will turn over our stock of 8,00 refrigerated silkworm eggs to this expert. We should be producing cocoon soon.”
Two mulberry varieties are being grown at the CLSU: the native and the Japanese trees were growning better than the Japanese variety.
Mulberry is easy to propagate, says Campos. The trees can be grown on any irrigated, well-drained farm. Through land preparation (two plowings and two harrowing) is recommended to ensure the rapid growth of trees.
Mulberry can be propagated using seed or cuttings. Campos does not recommend the use of seed (sexual propagation0 because : “plants propagated this way take a long time to reach the desired height and usually don’t retain the desirable qualities of mother plants.”
CLSU researches plant cuttings measuring 12 inches long and one-half to three-fourths of an inch in diameter in soil-filled plastic bags. To transplant,” says Campos, ‘just slit the bottom of the plastic bag and set the plant in the field. DO not plant cuttings directly in the field because the survival rate will be very low.”
Apply 90 kilograms of urea per hectare two weeks after transplanting, advises Campos. Weed and cultivate the farm regularly during the early stages of plant growth, and irrigate when the soil becomes too dry. To induce new leaf development after harvest, apply the same amount of fertilizer used during the first application.
Campos says pests and diseases have yet to appear at the CLSU mulberry farm “probably because mulberry is a new crop in the area and hasn’t attracted pests yet.