pomegranate one single stem tree or with suckers?
Most like the bush form.
I've seen tales of folks growing 'em as single-trunked specimens, but can't imagine the amount of control-freakiness it'd take to get one in that configuration.
Every one I've ever seen or grown was a multi-stemmed large shrub.
I agree with both Fascist (that's a terrible nickname, I hate to call you that!) and lucky. Pomegranates are bushes. I cannot imagine someone taking the time to keep one pruned to a single trunk! Once established, they can be pretty prolific. But, they can take a few years to get going. Mine are on years 3 and 4, and I just got some fruit last year on my Angel Red and my Wonderful. Hoping for more fruit this coming year. And the Angel Red I got 2 fruits off of last year was the one in bush form. I do had a single trunked specimen (which I'm allowing to get more bush-like), it is much larger, much older, but no fruit, yet.
My preference is for the tree form, which consists of a short single trunk with three main branches. This is accomplished with heavy Winter pruning and thinning of the wispy "twigs". Some Summer pruning is done to maintain size (in typical BYOC fashion).
Here's the same tree in bloom.
He didn't ask what anyone's preference was.....he asked WHICH SHAPE WOULD PRODUCE MORE FRUIT.
The answer is bush form. Some people that are on postage stamp lots prefer the tree form as it takes up less space but you will get less fruit.
Does anyone have data or experience backing up the claim that a multi-trunk bush form is more productive? What about fruit quality?
Take the POM Wonderful tour and see which form they are using. Or drive through the California central valley and note which kind of pom you see.
If you were worried about quality you would not grow Wonderful in the first place as it does so poorly in taste tests. It is the red delicious apple of poms :)
The more wood the more branches the more fruit, just common sense and common knowledge.
The reason why the commercial folks grow as single stem has nothing to do with maximum production per plant. It has to do with maximizing yield per acre and ease of picking and maintaining the bushes.
Speaking to the effort required for maintaining the tree form, here's a pretty good instruction sheet that details the single trunk three branch approach for poms. If you follow this method at the time of planting, it isn't too tough to continue on as the tree matures.
I hope that someone finds this information helpful.
Is breakage ever really a concern with pomegranates? Do you all think it should factor into these questions of bush/tree form at all?
I've not seen any breakage with the tree form. I can't speak to the multi-branch bush form which is essentially allowing the pom to sucker.
mrclint, I keep mine in bush form, but I remove suckers. My "bush" form is more like yours. I do have 1 "Angel Red" I purchased (back when they were much more difficult to get) that was trained to tree form (single trunk is what I would consider "tree" form). I have been actually able to keep it pretty close to single trunk over the last two years, I was rather surprised. I'll have to go up the slope and take a good look at it, and see how it looks. Certain pom cultivars are more prone to suckering than other cultivars.
Here's my 'Angel Red', Winter pruned and leafing out. Note single trunk with three main branches:
Patty, yeah the terms "bush" and "tree" can be a little nebulous when both can be kept at the same height and general structure.
The definitions might not help all that much either.
Tree: "a woody perennial plant, typically having a single stem or trunk growing to a considerable height and bearing lateral branches at some distance from the ground."
Bush: "a shrub or clump of shrubs with stems of moderate length."
Since all my trees have short single trunks, I just don't think of them as bushes.