The pomegranate, thought to have originated in Persia, was called Pomuni granatum or ‘seeded apple’ in the Middle Ages. The fruit adapts especially well to the cool winters and hot summers found in California or Arizona. Both temperature and humidity will affect growth; trees are typically 12 to 16 feet in height with stiff, spiny branches. While trees will lose much of their vigor after 15 years, many will endure— as 200-year-old pomegranate trees still exist in Europe today.

References: California Rare Fruit Growers, Purdue University, University of California Extension.

SEASONAL AVAILABILITY

Seasonal Availability Chart

TYPES, VARIETIES & CUTS

The most common variety in the United States is ‘Wonderful,’ originating in Florida and later cultivated in California as early as the 1890s. Fruit is large, purplish-red with a thick skin and light to crimson flesh. Other varieties include Cloud, Early Foothill, Francis, Granada, Green Globe, King, and Utah Sweet.

References: California Rare Fruit Growers, Purdue University, University of California Extension.

PESTS & DISEASE

The Alternaria fungus causes heart rot and damages the fruit on the inside leaving the outside looking unaffected. There is no known control at this time for the fungus. Leaf and fruit spots are typically caused by the Aspergillus castaneus fungus.

Pomegranate butterflies lay eggs on buds and the calyx (the green outside of the flower that protects the bud). The caterpillar that emerges bores through the bud and sometimes right through branches.

Fruit borers can damage an entire crop if not controlled, while Brevipalpus lewisi, a reddish-colored mite, hibernates under the bark on larger tree limbs and can cause russeting. One to two dustings of sulfur in June or early July will effectively control these pests.

Other pests of concern include aphids, filbert worms, and leaf-footed plant bugs.

References: Purdue University, University of California Extension, UC Davis Postharvest Technology website.

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