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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My Pomegranate Tree Produced No Fruit

Q. I have had a pomegranate tree for five years. The first three years it had fruit, even the first year I planted it. Last year and this year it has had no fruit. Can you tell me what to do for it? I prune and fertilize it the same way every year.

A. Pomegranates flower on the growth produced the same year the fruit is produced. In other words, unlike many other fruit trees, it flowers and produces fruit on new growth.
Pomegranate flowers

            It is very important to prune pomegranate before it begins to flower and avoid pruning during its growth. Pomegranate flowers and produces the best fruit on new growth coming from older wood.
            Some varieties of pomegranates, like yours, produce fruit when the tree is very young. Other pomegranates produce fruit after they get a bit older. As an experiment I would try not pruning at all this coming year and see what happens.
When pruning pomegranate leave four or five main stems at the base and remove all other sucker growth. The best pomegranates will be produced from this older wood.

            Another possibility could be the presence of some pretty nasty bugs such as the leaf footed plant bugs. You say your tree had no fruit but you did not say whether it produced flowers or not. If it produced flowers but no fruit than it is very likely the leaf footed plant bug was hard at work on your tree.
            If you have broadleaf evergreen trees such as bottlebrush (not pines), spray these trees during the winter months for leaf footed plant bug. These insects hide and feed during the winter months on trees that are evergreen or keep their leaves during the winter.
Bottlebrush in the winter with its very different looking seed capsules resulting from the flowers.

            These insects will be in full force when your pomegranate begins to produce fruit. Their feeding can cause fruit to drop from the tree at a very early age.
Safer is insecticidal soap is one example of a commercially made soap product safe to apply on plants.

            Soap and water sprays will control them if it is sprayed directly on these critters. Soap and water will not work if the tree is sprayed and you hope they come in contact with it.   Chemical sprays that appear to work well against this insect include pyrethrin sprays and those that contain the conventional insecticide Sevin.

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