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How to prune the Pomegranate

How to prune the Pomegranate

The pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) is an arboreal or shrub species belonging to the Punicaceae family and is native to an area between Iran and the Himalayan area of ​​northern India.
It is a plant known and cultivated since ancient times in the Caucasus and in the whole Mediterranean Macchia.
The pomegranate is a plant that tends to grow naturally in a bushy form so in this sheet we will see how to prune the Pomegranate, following its natural evolutionary tendency.
Like all fruit plants, pomegranate also needs periodic pruning to reinvigorate the plant, keep it healthy and improve its qualitative and quantitative yield. This species can reach considerable dimensions, also assuming an arboreal bearing and pruning has different purposes, including improving the plant’s posture, its aesthetic yield and, as mentioned, the quality of the fruits. The pomegranate, in fact, tends to produce many basal branches and shoots which, in addition to altering the shape of the tree, remove light, air and nutrients from the productive branches, compromising their fruiting.
The pomegranate pruning aims to eliminate unwanted branches, basal suckers and dry, damaged and unproductive branches. By pruning properly and eliminating unnecessary branches, a tree with a symmetrical crown and abundant and qualitatively appreciable fructification will be obtained.
Furthermore the evolution of pomegranate cultivation techniques, due to the introduction of the new cultivars, which have a quick fruiting and already in the second year can bear their first fruits, also requires an update of the pruning techniques.
If, however, the pomegranate is cultivated for personal purposes and without the need for a commercial type of cultivar, it is possible to choose the traditional open vase shape, decked on three or four branches, at a height of 80-90 cm, with airing in the center. In this case, recommended in the future agroecological scenario, a plant is built without supports, with obvious lower maintenance costs, giving up the fruiting of the first years, continuing to prune the vertical branches at the beginning of the summer, so as to obtain upward sprouts , which will constitute the circular crown of the branches that form the vase.
If instead you choose the new cultivars that, as mentioned, are very early and very productive, you need to go towards a form of farming supported by scaffolding. In this case it is necessary to support the plant when there is a heavy load on the young branches. This justifies the use of support structures, such as the transverse Y or horizontal wires supported by piling.
Before moving on to the training system and to the structures, it must be emphasized that in these cases the optimal sixth of the systems in the system with transverse Y support poles is 6×3.50 m which can be varied with the 6th 3 or 5×3 or 5×2.5 depending on the cultivar, soil, etc.

However, increasing the plant density, in addition to the obvious investment increases, ecological imbalances are faced due to the excessive specialization, to the need to increase the fertilizations with consequent unsolvable problems if not with the use of chemical regulators that are as is known, insecticides and other substances that, in the long run, tamper with the ecosystem over time and space.
Nevertheless, if one goes towards these forms of planting, the plant must be raised in a monocaule and must be supported by a pole or a cane and accompanied by a strong horizontal thread. In this case the rod is shortened to 50-60 cm from the ground and then the shoots are bred to form the crown, possibly tying them to the upper horizontal threads.
The branches will then be shortened or replaced at each winter pruning for the formation of a robust tree structure. Several secondary branches should develop from each main branch, but those in excess (with the risk of overcrowding) must be removed, as well as the suckers that develop at the base of the tree.
If you opt for the transverse Y structures, the winter pruning must be accompanied by operations to identify the bearing branches of the vessel, branches that are tied to the horizontal support wires. A green pruning should also be carried out, in order to keep the inside of the structure open during the growing season and aimed both at eliminating too vigorous suckers and shortening some to anticipate the use of fruit.
A definitive formation of the plant, in the transverse Y, will have 6-12 main branches arranged as an inverted umbrella on the trunk with the crown formed with ligatures of the branches on the horizontal wires. This technique is very laborious but valid for obtaining maximum shading of the fruits and limiting burns, but also to facilitate the operations of thinning the fruit trees, which in this case are necessary, as well as the harvest.
We recall here that the pomegranate is however a very versatile plant that adapts to various forms of farming: sapling, globular, with a single trunk and free foliage (on the model of the Spanish Mollar); a free vase, without structures (as already mentioned), like the peach tree; on the wall, on the back, with horizontal or oblique branches along the row, on 3 superimposed stages; a fusetto or central axis, with a central uninterrupted stem and with a series of stages of branches at several levels. You can also push yourself towards the pergola or the awning, but the economic and ecological costs hardly match a noticeable burden not only of the economic ones but above all of the ecological ones. Among the operations that are underestimated there is certainly that of the thinning of the fruit trees. of flowers, which in good years can also require 3 or 4 passages (the little fruit removed could find use in various fields).
In whatever form the pomegranate is bred, however, attention must be paid to the burning of the peel of the fruits which are the consequence of the solar radiation associated with high temperatures, which can affect different cultivars differently. This aspect seems to be underestimated in the calculation of production yields, as the percentage can easily reach 30% of the fruits, especially in the early years of the plant when the foliage does not repair the fruits.
To overcome this problem, the intensity of the pruning of the parts exposed to the sun must be regulated differently from those less exposed. This question is also connected to the phenomenon of the breaking of the fruits, especially near the ripening when the process of natural development of the fruit tends to spread its seeds; it is a characteristic that, in addition to being linked to variety and shading, is, according to some field assessments, influenced by nutritional and water balances.

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