Thinninga fruit crop eliminates alternate-year bearing and increases fruit quality in many species of fruit trees, but not the pomegranate. This tree produces well in semi-tropical and semi-arid regions such as southern California, Arizona, southern Texas and northern Mexico. Though pomegranates may survive temperatures as low as 12 degrees F, the trees suffer winter damage that naturally limits their crop in more northern areas. Pomegranates grown in Georgia may set only a dozen fruit in a good year, according to the University of Georgia's Cooperative Extension Service.
If you decide to thin your pomegranates, thin fruiting branches rather than removing the fruit itself. Pomegranates fruit from spurs near the tips of branches. To limit fruit production, snip weaker spurs back to just before the swelling of tissue at the base of the twig.
Prevent fruit production in young pomegranate trees by trimming back limbs during late winter while the tree is dormant. Cutting back by a third the length of the limbs eliminates most fruiting wood and forces the tree to produce new shoots. Cut back the crown of the tree by a third each winter for the first three years.
Tend mature pomegranate trees by pruning out crossed and broken branches and thinning out crowded limbs. Four or five main shoots form the framework of pomegranate trees trained in the bush shape--the most winter hardy. Control size and create a healthy canopy by snipping unwanted fruiting shoots back to the main limb.
Thin fruit clusters early--but only if necessary--before the pomegranate puts energy into fruit growth. Thinning fruit by pinching the berry off at the base should seldom be required. Some heirloom pomegranate varieties produce more fruit, though smaller in size, than commercial cultivars. Variety type impacts fruit size more than any thinning practice.
Things You Will Need
- Limb loppers
- Pruning shears
- Winter temperatures in most regions of the U.S. naturally thin the fruiting spurs of pomegranates through freeze damage. Wait until late in the winter before pruning, and begin with winter-killed and damaged limbs and spurs.
- Pomegranate fruits often split and rot in late fall before dropping from the tree. Fungal infections could exaggerate the problem. Spraying with fungicide may help, but picking fruit early for ripening off the tree also works.
- When fruits are well colored, rap one sharply with a finger--if it rings, it's ready.
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