Huge pomegranate tree with terrible fruit

pearubuDecember 19, 2013

Hi there...I just bought a house with an 80-year-old pomegranate tree, and moved in just in time for the harvest. The tree was beautiful: 30 feet tall and full of big red fruit...but the pomegranates were terrible! Insanely sour with a bad aftertaste.

It took forever to get all the fruit off, most of which had split open, and I ended up sending 400 pounds of pomegranates off to the city composter.

The leaves are yellowing now and dropping. Wondering if I should prune back to the bigger limbs (3/4" and up) this winter?

Certainly going to feed it with citrus food this spring, and plan to remove half the fruit after flowering, hoping to improve the fruit's flavor.

Any other ideas or suggestions?



This post was edited by pearubu on Fri, Dec 20, 13 at 17:35

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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

It is hard to tell when a pomegranate is ripe....they look ripe long before they actually are so it is possible that is the cause. There are also some poms that are very sour when

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 5:18PM
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I know that Wonderful poms get a "soapy" after taste if left on the tree too long. Mid-December would be too long for my locale. I harvested the last of mine a couple of weeks ago.

If I had a 30' tree I would cut it down and plant a bunch of new trees in its place.

Here is a link that might be useful: Backyard Orchard Culture

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 5:26PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Is it in full sun? Good sun is needed for the sugar to develop.

Also re: fruit splitting, see link.

Here is a link that might be useful: pomegranate fruit split

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 5:30PM
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The poms were definitely ripe. The tree gets plenty of sun. It's a beautiful tree and I'd like to keep it; it's a key element in the backyard...very nice area under it for a table & chairs. (Remember, HUGE tree.) The main trunk is about 16" in diameter.

Anybody have any luck grafting different varieties onto a mature tree?

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 6:10PM
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Pomegranate is one fruit tree that is rarely grafted, but it is probably possible, although the twigs of new growth are so thin!

I would look into some alternative uses for the pomegranates (making jelly, candy, etc...) or not, and just enjoy the tree for what it is: a beautiful flowering accent to your yard. There's also a slight chance that different cultural practices could make the fruit taste better!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 9:17AM
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Congratulations on having such a huge, ancient pom tree. That it has sour fruit is not a total all. I have converted several mature, sour-fruited poms over to multiple varieties in the last 2 years using bark grafts on 1/2" to 1" thick fast-growing shoots, and (much better) using cleft grafts on 1/4" to 3/8" thick shoots. I would first start with a massive pruning to eliminate all the upper, thick, unneeded tree, leaving a variety of several trunks coming out of the tree base, each having a few thin , upright shoots coming out of them. I would plan to graft in March as new leaves are starting to grow out of the already-pruned tree's remaining shoots. The dormant scions of known, good quality trees in the fridge will get a fresh dose of sap hitting them after being grafted. I see no benefit to grafting higher than 4 feet off the ground. If you want more details, let me know.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 5:15PM
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That sounds pretty cool...if I can find some good scions, I'm definitely going to try it. However, as you can see, all my suitable limbs start at around 8 feet off the ground.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 5:32PM
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The highest above ground grafts that I did were at about 7 feet, due to tree branch particulars. With a good ladder, I would still whack off a lot of your unneeded high branches and select the "best" upright, thin shoots located on lower big branches for March grafting. Maybe try about 20 grafts that are distributed strategically. With, all the lost branches, the tree should send up a bunch of new suckers from the base in Spring. You could pick few of these to do cleft grafts on also in May with the rest of your fridged scions.

It would be good to remove all the
MANY sprouts that will continually appear everywhere on the ungrafted areas so that the grafts will get lots of sap.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 7:04PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If you top the whole thing the tree's overall energy level drops due to the reduction in food-making foliage and food stored in stems (which is tapped in an effort to replace the branches that were cut off). So I'm not sure about cutting off re-growth that is not where the grafts are making the grafts grow better, due to the grafts thereby getting more "sap". You don't, of course want to let the grafts get overtaken and shaded out by other branches.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 9:28PM
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bboy: I would be very interested to learn from you about the topworking of your mature pom trees. Please advise as to what you did to get them changed over to completely different and much better varieties. Especially about the MANY new suckers poking out from both the bottom 1 foot of the trees, as well as the MANY new sprouts that "erupted" al over the upper branches below the grafts. Thank you...... In the case of some of the poms that I topworked completely, those that got regular removal of the continuous new sprouts ended up with thicker, faster-growing scion shoots. In the cases where I paid less attention to regular removal of new shoots on the ungrafted tree branches/trunks, the scion growth was absolutely less, and the new sprouts below the grafts grew like monsters..

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 3:13AM
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bboy & copingwithclay: if you have photos of your trees to post showing your grafts and subsequent poms, that would be very cool.

This post was edited by pearubu on Mon, Dec 23, 13 at 9:49

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 8:47AM
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