Mulberry: Summer starts in Hanoi

Nga Do
Beginning in April each year, farmers in the district of Phuc Tho on the outskirt of Hanoi are busy harvesting their ripe mulberries. It’s clear to witness the vast eye-catching areas in the red and dark purple of the colourful mulberry fruits when visiting Hiep Thuan, a peaceful commune on the banks of the Day River.

Hiep Thuan has been famous for a long time as one of the largest mulberry baskets, offering its beautiful ripe mulberries to Hanoi and the other neighbouring localities’ markets.

The harvesting season starts in late March and early April every year, lasting for just a couple of weeks. Fruitful mulberry trees of three to four years old bear a lot of fruit. The mulberries ripen variably, simultaneously to black or dark purple in the ripe fruit, alternated by several attractive nearly ripe red fruit.

Mulberry harvesting may seem to be a simple task but requires skill from the farmers. Each ripe fruit is collected carefully by lightly pushing up the stem to not damage the mulberry. Farmers’ hands dyed by the colour of the ripe mulberries.

During each season, every mulberry cultivating household harvests about two tonnes. Do Huu Hanh, born 1973, said that his family cultivates about 20 mulberry trees; each tree can generate from 70-90kg per season.

The whole family are mobilised to collect mulberries from the early morning to late evening. Every day, they have lunch at their gardens to harvest mulberries in a timely fashion to transfer them to traders. A person can pick up to an average of about 20-30kg of mulberries during ten hours working in the fields.

The ripened mulberry fields also attract a large number of visitors during the harvest to visit and buy mulberries from local farmers right in their fields, costing VND15,000-20,000 each kg.

The small, long, but juicy mulberry is a typical summer fruit. Traditionally, locals in the north often mix mulberries with sugar for several days. The dark liquid with an extreme mulberry fragrance after the process is a drink that can scare away thirst during the summer days. All parts of the mulberry tree are used in recipes in traditional herbal medicine.

After being harvested, the mulberries will be placed in the shade and then packed into containers waiting to be brought to customers in Hanoi and the nearby localities, even to the central and southern markets.

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