By Umar Nsubuga
James Senyange who grows pomegranate in Mukono says cuttings are the easiest and the most satisfactory method of growing pomegranates.
He says propagation can be planted by seed or cuttings.
“Cuttings preferably from 2-year-old trees should be used”.
Senyange says it is important to use cuttings for faster growth and fruit variation.
Pomegranates are commercially propagated from hardwood cuttings 10 to 20 inches long, and treated with a rooting hormone used to ensure development.
Air layers are also possible. Seeds germinate easily but often produce unreliable results.
Cuttings preferably from 2-year-old trees should be used. Cut straight twigs eight to 10 inches at a time when the tree is dormant. Place the cuttings in a rooting hormone and then into a well-prepared potting soil.
Watering regularly keeps the cuttings moist, in eight to 16 weeks, the cuttings shall have rooted.
At this time, you can plant the sprouted cuttings as individual landscaping shrubs or in rows eight to 10ft apart for fruit production, or even as windbreaks.
Prune the trees to encourage faster fruit production. Watch out for whiteflies, thrips, mealy bugs and scales as these cause foliar damage.
Senyange a Ugandan based in Canada does not claim to be an experienced farmer, but a casual chat with him reveals just how knowledgeable he is in farming.
He is particularly interested in pomegranate, a fruit that has organic acids, vitamin C, polysaccharides, essential minerals and antioxidants.
He says this fruit has compounds with antioxidant activity, including ascorbic acid, flavonoids and phenolic.
The nutritious nature of the fruit has played a role in its increased consumption, especially in the form of juice and other processed products.
While the fruit receives less attention from Ugandan farmers, Senyange says it has huge potential for both local and international markets.
Pomegranates are largely sold in supermarkets owned by Indians.
Their seeds “have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years,” information on the UK’s National Health Services (NHS) website, says.
“It is a tropical perennial plant native to India and Indonesia and is cultivated throughout the tropics around the world”.
The fruits’ husks have two parts, an outer hard pericarp and an inner spongy mesocarp, which comprises the wall of the fruit where seeds attach.
The edible part is usually the berry with seeds and pulp produced from the ovary of a single flower. The trees are drought-tolerant but can be grown in wet areas, where the crop would, however, be prone to root decay.
A farmer growing them in wet areas should ensure there is proper drainage before investing in their production.
Deep, loamy, well-drained soils are preferred but the pomegranate has some tolerance to less-than-ideal drainage and mild alkaline condition. The preferable PH is 5.5 to 7.2.