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Home / Livestock

The A-Z of growing rich pomegranates

Last week our sister publication The Money Maker did an article on growing pomegranate for commercial purposes and there was a lot of interest in how to propagate it. Today, I will give expert insights.

Pomegranate is grown for its large fruit, although the dwarf cultivars are sometimes grown primarily for landscaping or bonsai trees. The plant grows in a wide range of soils with good drainage. It thrives best in open sunlight and is drought tolerant.

The warm temperatures improve the fruit flavour. Sprinkler irrigation is preferred during dry periods for mass fruit production, but it should not be used close to harvest time because it causes fruit cracking. The pomegranate is self-pollinating, or insects can cross-pollinate it. Cross-pollination by insects increases fruit set and quality.

Propagating pomegranates

Propagating pomegranates can be either by using seeds or cuttings. Pomegranate fruit contains hundreds of seeds that can be extracted for planting. Therefore, the easiest method of propagation is by seed. The pomegranate seeds germinate quickly, even if sprinkled on the top of the soil.

They usually have a little problem with dormancy since the tree is native to warm climates. Seeds are economical than other methods of propagation. However, the problem with seed propagation is that they are not true to type and can lose some of the desired characteristics of the parent cultivars. Also, plants propagated from seeds take longer to start flowering and fruit formation. For these reasons, seed propagation is not ideal for large-scale production.

The use of cuttings

The use of cuttings is the alternative propagation method. Cuttings produce a plant true to type and without variability. The plants propagated from a single original plant result in plants identical to the mother plants.

The use of cuttings requires they are taken from hardwood at the appropriate time. The cutting should be approximately 10 inches long and taken from year-old wood about 0.25 to 0.50 inches in diameter.

Dip the cut end of each cutting in a commercial growth hormone immediately after taking the cutting. Allow the roots to develop in your greenhouse before planting. Alternatively, you can plant the cuttings directly in their permanent location.

Plant the cuttings in well-draining loam or sandy loam in an area that gets full sun, making sure the top node sticks above the soil line. Plant cuttings three to nine feet apart if growing to shrub form and at least 18 feet apart in all directions if growing to tree form. Alternately, plant the cuttings in moist sand or peat moss and Perlite mix.

Water the planted cuttings after every seven to ten days. Ensure that the top two inches of soil is continuously moist near the end of the growing season. Pomegranates can tolerate a bit of flooding, so don’t worry about keeping the soil too moist.

Fertilise the young trees

Fertilise the young trees by top dressing with the recommended fertiliser. Apply manure for higher yields. Prune back all the large stems with sterilised lopping shears except the strong one during the first year’s dormant period to develop a central leader if you want to grow a tree-type pomegranate. Pinch back the new shoots leave only three to five that grow symmetrically to serve as the tree’s scaffold branches during the first year.

Remove the suckers using the pliers to grasp and twist suckers too dense to twist off by hand. Twisting the suckers off instead of cutting closes the wound and helps prevent them from growing back. It is recommended you remove the suckers as soon as you see them.

Top shrub to two or two and a half feet tall during the first two years of growth to grow a shrub-type pomegranate. The lowest branch on a shrub-type pomegranate should be no lower than eight to ten inches above the ground.

Trim back all the branches and prune back any branches that come in contact with other growth during the first dormant period after planting. Remove old, over-ripe fruit from the pomegranate tree or shrub when you prune, as well as any fruit lying on the ground.

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