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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pomegranates Can Freeze Back in Southern Nevada

Q. We live in Pahrump and our pomegranate tree looks quite dead. We purchased her as a one gallon tree in May of 2008, and planted her immediately. She has grown quite well, to a height of almost 5 feet, and even produced a few fruit last year. But she does not seem to be coming out of her winter slumber. There are no signs of growth of any kind on any of her branches, and she has developed 3 suckers (which she never did before). Any suggestions or advice? We would hate to think we've lost her.

A. We also had some significant dieback to pomegranate at our orchard as well on some varieties of pomegranate.  We have 12 varieties growing there. This was not due, in my opinion, to unusually low winter temperatures but rather the timing of some winter freezes.  We had two bad ones come through Southern Nevada; one in the fall in November and the other one late spring.  I think the one in November did the most harm. 

To my knowledge no one has published the minimum temperature for pomegranate varieties. In a general sense, it is common knowledge that 10F (-12 C) is generally regarded as pomegranates minimum temperature without freezing but this is not correct. It varies among varieties, if the plant had an application of fertilizer late in the growing season or not and what the weather was like prior to freezing temperatures. Like any other plant, its ability to withstand winter freezing has a lot to do with what the fall or spring temperatures were like prior to hitting that 10F and how the plant was managed.

Most pomegranates are grown on their own roots and so hopefully you will see some suckering from the base of the plant particularly if it was mulched during the winter.  We also had some dieback to some figs which was unusual for us.

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