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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Not Too Late to Prune Pomegranate!

Pomegranates will give you bigger and better fruit if you prune. The question is, HOW?
I have worked with pomegranates in several countries now and I will try to explain some basics to help get you started.
Pomegranates are easier to manage and produce better fruit if they are pruned. Single-trunked pomegranates can also be created. Pick three to five large stems or "trunks" to remain. Remove the others.
Pomegrantes are wicked to prune. I always leave pretty bloody with some pretty nasty scratches everywhere. So be prepared as best as you can. Makes you wonder who won!

In most cases, pomegranates are easier to manage and produce better fruit if they are pruned so that 1 to 5 major trunks remain. They seldom perform well or easy to manage if you let them grow as a "bush". If you have been to my demonstrations...start at the BOTTOM of the tree and move upward when pruning.
Start pruning on your knees. Remove all but the largest and most vigorous trunks. Remove the rest. Do not leave stubs as it was done here. They will just create suckers or die back. Pull the mulch or soil away from the trunk and make the cuts as close to the main trunks as possible. Use sharp, adjusted and sanitized tools.You do not need to use pruning paint after the cut. Let the cuts heal for a couple of weeks and replace the soil or mulch.
Remove any side branches from the trunk that will touch the ground when they are pulled down like they might if they produced fruit. Fruit should not be allowed to touch the ground.
Multi-trunked trees should have their side growth removed if those side shoots might allow fruit to touch the ground.

You are now standing and using a loppers. Remove any crossed branches or branches that are broken. If shoots are growing on top of one another or immediately next to each other, remove one. Fruit will be produced on spring growth so we say it produces fruit on "current season" wood.
Flowers are produced on new growth that's why they flower later than many other fruit trees. The new growth must first be produced and then flowers will form on it. The best fruit is produced on this new growth that comes from larger branches. These flowers originate from exactly the same place on this new growth. If they both set fruit, one will be removed when it is small to allow for the other to get larger. This is one of the few times the fruit is "thinned", otherwise we don't thin the fruit.
The best fruit is colorful, free from scratches and free from sunburn. The best fruit will be protected from direct intense sunlight, hangs so that it doesn't get scratched by neighboring branches.

Lowering the height of pomegranate. Pomegranate height can be lowered and kept small if you want it that way. Pomegranate grows like a fountain. Young erect stems produce fruit. The fruit weighs the branch down and causes it to bend toward the ground. The bent branch is stimulated to grow new shoots along its bent side toward the sun. This creates growth that resembles a "fountain". This continues until woody growth of the plant supports itself and produces fruit in a tangled mess of branches and thorny wood. Once the tree reaches the height you want, remove "suckers" growing straight up at their source. It is easiest to do when this growth is young and immature when it can be "pulled" from older wood rather than cutting it out.

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