Climatic Requirements

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» Pomegranates come from areas with long, sunny and hot summers with low humidity and short cool winters.

» They do very well in Mediterranean type environments.

» Pomegranates will do well in most suburban gardens of South Africa, especially if the right variety is chosen.

» The most constricting factors for commercial pomegranate production are areas with too high humidity and rainfall during summer or areas that receive severe frost during winter.

» Furthermore, pomegranates are senstive to wind and extremely windy areas should be avoided.

» Pomegranates can tolerate moderate frost (around -5°C) very well but trouble starts when severe frost(around -10°C) occurs on a regular basis. Frost resistance varies greatly from variety to variety and is also dependant on the age of the tree (see special section on Frost).

» The top commercial growing areas for pomegranates are in the inland areas of the Western Cape.

» Poor quality pomegranates are produced if it rains too much during their flowering time and also during ripening.

Position


» Pomegranates need as much sun as they can get so that they can produce quality and abundant fruit.

» They, however, also tolerate semi-shade but at the expense of the fruit.

» One great advantage is that they don't have invasive and strong roots and thus make excellent trees for small gardens. The generally have shallow, spreading roots.

» Give your tree as much air circulation as possible but avoid areas exposed to strong winds.

» Pomegranates don't like areas that are too windy as their branches break easily and the fruit bruises and damages as well.

» In areas which experience severe frost, it is best to plant your tree against a warm, north facing wall that bakes in the sun all day long.

» Avoid planting your pomegranates near large trees as this negatively affects their growth.

Planting of New Trees

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When to plant?
» If trees are purchased as established container grown plants, they can be transplanted any time of the year except in regions that experience severe frost.

» In areas with severe frost it is best to plant only once all danger of frost has passed (normally after mid September).

» If you purchase barerooted trees or wish to transplant trees that are already established, you can only do this during the dormant period (usually June to mid August).
Spacing?
» Allow your tree at least a clear area of roughly 4m x 4m to fully develop.

» If you are planting an orchard, the spacing should be at least 4m apart in the rows and about 5-6m between the rows.
How to plant?
» Choose your position carefully as previously discussed.

» Make the planting hole twice the size of the bag or at least 50cm x 50cm x 50cm (deep and wide).

» Fill the hole with water to the brink and wait for all the water to drain away.

» Mix 500 grams of bonemeal(or 250grams of superphosphate), 500grams of Bioganic Fertilizer and half a bag of compost(15dm) with the soil that was removed from the hole.

» Throw some of this mixture back into the hole until it is filled enough so that the new pomegranate plant can be planted level to the surrounding soil. Fill the gaps with the rest of the mixed soil and compact firmly.

» Make a basin around the tree with the rest of the soil.

» It is very important to flood the basin with water so that the soil and new tree can settle and also to remove airpockets.
Aftercare:
» It will take about 3 months for your tree to settle in before it starts to grow strongly.

» Water your tree very well for the first month! At least every second day.

» Do not use any chemical fertilizer or strong manure when planting new plants. You can apply these later when the plant's roots have
become established(usually 3 months after planting).

» It is very important to ensure that weeding is done regulary around the stem. A thick mulch will keep weeds in check and the roots moist.

» Pomegranate trees should have a bed around them at all times. Do not allow your lawn to grow right up against the main trunk. The roots of the grass will compete with your pomegranate trees roots.

» Furthermore, a bed around your tree will ensure that the bark will not be damaged by lawnmowers and edge cutters. This is called ringbarking and many trees die annually because this is not done.

» The use of concrete tree rings is highly recommended and works very well in protecting the stems.



» Above: A well planned and maintained orchard.

Soil

soil header
» Pomegranates can adapt and be grown in a wide range of soils as long as there is adequate drainage.

» They, however, grow best in well drained, fertile, deep loam soil.

» They will grow well in moderate acid or alkaline soils.

» They tolerate a wide ph range of 4.5 - 8.2 but for best growth a ph level of 5.5 - 7.2 is required.

» One of the advantages of the Pomegranate is their salt tolerance.

» If they are grown in pots, use a good quality bark potting soil and improve drainage by filling the bottom with gravel.

Watering

climatic requirements header
» One of the great advantages of pomegranates is their tolerance of drought as they are considered "waterwise" plants.

» Although they tolerate severe drought, the harvest will of course be severely affected(fruit falling off or grow too small).

» Pomegranates like moist but not wet soil. It is important to try to maintain its level of soil moisture troughout the growing season as a drastic change in soil moisture often causes splitting of the fruit. It is, however, recommended to reduce watering when fruit start to ripen (normally from late summer).

» Do not water with sprinklers as water on the flowers and fruit can cause diseases and splitting.

» Drip irrigation systems are highly recommended. Alternatively, flood the rootzone with a hose.

» It is always better to give deep, thorough waterings less often than frequent, almost daily waterings.

» A rough guide(this depends on weather conditions) is to water at least twice a week roughly equal to 20mm of rain.

» Young plants up to the age of 3 years should be watered more.

» Pomegranates grown in sandy soils will need more watering and ones grown in clay soils will need less watering.

» The plants can be kept dry during the winter dormancy period.

» Pomegranates grown in bags or containers should never be allowed to dry out!

» Drip irrigation comes highly recommended as it is water usage efficient.

drip irrigation

Feeding

feeding header

» Once established, pomegranates will need very little feeding but this will depend on the local soil conditions.

» Pomegranates will need more feeding if grown in sandy or rocky soils.

» Pomegranates grown commercially will also need more but specialized feeding.

» Overfeeding, especially with high nitrogen fertilzers, can cause poor fruit production.

» Today there is a vast range of fertilizers available and each brand claims they are the best. There is not really a right or wrong kind of fertilizer or brand and I suppose it is all up to your personal preferance and experience. I am going to recommend my own personal choices to you but remember there are many other feeding programmes and products that others swear by that also provide great results.
Feeding for young trees
» Young trees (less than three years) will need more feeding to help them grow and establish fast.

»Fertilizers high in Nitrogen, like Wonder 7.1.3 carbon based fertilizer, are recommended.

» The fertilizer should monthly be applied around the base of the tree and at least 30cm away from the main stem.

» About 50grams for each year of the tree is recommended but be very careful when using chemical fertilizers as too much can burn the plant. Always water very well immediately after application.

» I also like to monthly add some additional organic chicken pellets like Bioganic Fertilizer as well every month as this will keep the soil healthy and also provide micro elements.

» All feeding should be stopped at the end of February to start hardening off the plant before winter sets in.
Feeding mature pomegranates
» Mature trees (3 years or older) will need less feeding and they respond well to natural fertilizers.

» During late winter the tree should be mulched with compost mixed with bonemeal. You can also sprinkle some Bioganic fertilizer (about 1kg) around the tree.

» In spring, a once off application of Wonder 7.1.3 fertilizer is recommended as pomegranates use a lot of Nitrogen when forming new leaves.

» For the rest of the season, if needed, Wonder 2.3.4 fertilizer (at a rate of 50 grams per square meter) and/or Bioganic fertilizer (at a rate of 100grams per square meter) sprinkled around the tree monthly.

» All feeding should be stopped at the end of February to harden the tree off before winter sets in.

Pruning

climatic requirements header
» Pruning pomegranates is much easier than most other fruit bearing crops but there are a few things that you have to keep in mind. Before we begin please read the following section.
Some important tips:
» Main pruning should be done during the dormant period when all leaves have fallen off. The best time will be around end of July or just before spring.

» When removing secondary branches from the main trunks, always leave a short shoulder. Do not cut back right against the main trunk.

» Always use sharp pruning equipment. Clean cuts heal quickly.

» Avoid tearing and cracking stems when pruning.

» Always seal thicker cuts with pruning sealent (butimen) to keep out fungal diseases and boring insects.

» It is a good idea to spray the whole tree with Lime sulphur after pruning as this will eliminate any pests and diseases that might still be present on the tree.

» Ensure that thicker branches and the main trunk will have enough leave cover left to protect the bark from sunburn.

» Sun exposed bare trunks can be painted with white PVA paint to lessen sun damage.

» Try to cut with a slight angle just above the internodes(eyes) of the stems.

» Slower growing and dwarf varieties should only be pruned lightly.

» Pomegranates in pots should also only be ligthly pruned.

» Severe pruning can cause poor fruit production.

» Pomegranates normally start bearing fruit normally after 3 years of age on both older wood and the current year's wood.
Pruning young trees (3 years or younger)
» Young trees should not be pruned after their first year in the ground and should be left alone to establish first.

» In the second year you can start pruning the young tree. It is important to develop the correct main framework of the tree as this is difficult to rectify once it has matured.

» There are two pruning concepts which can be chosen when it comes to pomegranate growing:
Single stem
» With the single stem system, one main trunk is chosen the second year and the rest of the branches are cut off.

» Secondary branches are allowed to grow out of the main trunk from about 50cm - 1m above the ground level.

» The single stem method is recommended for commercial production in areas that experience little or no frost.

» With this method there is less maintenance work required when suckers are to be removed and weeding is also easier around a single stem.

» The single stem method allows the plant to be exposed to more sun and better air circulation than with a multi-stemmend bushy tree.
Multi-stem
» With the multi-stem system, the best 5-6 trunks are chosen in the second year and the rest are cut back to the ground.

» Secondary branches are allowed to grow from these trunks about 50cm - 1m above the ground.

» This method is advised for areas that experience heavy to severe frost during winter time.

» If severe frost does occur, normally one or two branches can die back. There will still be branches left that survive and will be able to produce fruit. With the single stem method the whole tree is lost and replaced with a lot of suckers.

» Furthermore, with the multi-stem method damaged, dead or unproducitve branches can be removed and replaced with new suckers while there is still other branches left that can produce fruit. With the single stem method the whole process of developing a new trunk must be done all over again.

» The following year (third) all strong, upright growing branches should be cut back so that new secondary branches can develop. All suckers from the base of the stems should be removed.
Mature trees (3 years or older)
» Mature trees should be easy to maintain if the correct forming techniques were followed when the tree was young.

» The main problem with pomegranates is that they constantly form new suckers at the base of the framework whether it is single or multi-stemmed.

» No suckers should be allowed to grow below 50cm -1m of the tree's main stems.

» Strong upright suckers are unproductive and take a lot of energy away from the top productive part of the tree.

» All weak, thin and overcrowded branches should be removed.

» All branches that are dead or sick should be removed.

» The idea is to allow as much sun and air circulation into the tree without exposing the branches to too much sun which can cause sunburn.

» Pomegranates produce fruit on both older and the current year's wood. It is, however, better to promote fruiting on the older wood.

» It is best to roughly cut back about a third of the current year's growth and leave the other half unpruned.

» Try to keep the tree as low as possible as this makes picking and spraying for pests and diseases easier.

» Allow enough spaces inbetween the main and secondary stems and branches and remove all criss crossing ones.

Production and Harversting


giving trees painting image
» Pomegranates are self pollinating but better yields are achieved with cross pollination. You can expect a better yield of about 30% if a different variety is planted close to another.

» Cross pollination is usually done by insects and humming birds. Bees are not normally the main pollinators.

» Pomegranates have got both male and hermaphroditic (self pollinating,fruit bearing)flowers which are normally next to each other. The male flowers will drop and the hermaphroditic flowers will continue to swell and develop into pomegranates.

» It is advisable to thin out developing fruit. Remove fruit so that they are roughly 30cm apart. Also remove fruit that are next to each other (twins).

» By thinning out the fruit, their size will greatly improve. Leaving too many fruit on can weaken the tree or branches can break off.

» Pomegranates take a long time before they start to ripen and most will ripen only from late autumn (normally from April).

» Pomegranates will ripen earlier and faster during hot and dry conditions.

» The fruit must be picked just before they are fully mature as they crack if overripe.

» Pomegranates are ready to be picked if they have good, strong colour and when tapped they will sound metallic.

» Do not pull off the fruit, instead cut it off with secateurs.

» The pomegranate is equal to the apple concerning storage life.