CULTIVATION, STORAGE & PACKAGING
Well-drained soil is best for growing pomegranates. Although drought-tolerant after established, sufficient irrigation is necessary for good fruit growth. After the first two springs, trees require little fertilizer and respond well to mulch. Pruning will help achieve a strong, balanced tree so plants should be cut back after reaching about 2 feet in height. Shoots will develop from each cutting and need to be distributed evenly around the stem. The fruit develops at the tips of new growth. Regular pruning is recommended for the first three years to encourage new shoots.
Pomegranates are picked 6 to 7 months after flowering when ripe, as the fruit does not ripen off the tree and ethylene treatment is ineffective.
Growers describe the fruit as making a metallic sound when tapped, indicating ripeness. Pomegranates should be clipped close to the base, not pulled off the tree.
No stem on the fruit when harvesting lessens the likelihood of damage in handling and shipping. Pomegranates ship well when cushioned by paper or straw in wooden crates.
Fruit has a long storage life if kept at the proper temperature and humidity: up to 2 months if kept at 41°F with 80 to 85% relative humidity, and for longer periods at 45 to 50°F to prevent chilling injury.
References: California Rare Fruit Growers, Purdue University, University of California Extension.
GOOD ARRIVAL GUIDELINES
Currently, there are no arrival guidelines specific to the United States or Canada for pomegranates.
References: DRC, PACA, USDA.
WEEKLY MOVEMENT & PRICES, USA
Source: Chart by Gallo Torrez Agricultural Price Trends (GTAPT), email@example.com, compiled from USDA data.
• Brown to black discoloration is a common defect and may be caused by bruising or rough handling, scald, or chilling injury (if pomegranates are stored at temperatures below 41°F). Chilling injury can be identified when sunken, pitted spots are associated with discoloration. All surface discolorations are scored as defects based on their appearance (as a guide, if the discoloration is dark brown to black, it is scored as a defect when affecting an area greater than 3/4 inch in diameter—allow a greater area if the discoloration is lighter in color; allow less if the affected discolored area is sunken or pitted)
• Sunburn can be found on the exposed side of the fruit: it may appear as a yellow to golden brown discoloration, and the skin may crack in severe cases (in some cases the sunburn will affect the flesh—as a guide, score as a defect when affecting more than 10% of the surface, or affecting the flesh)
• White surface mold, found affecting the stem or calyx areas, is not scored as a defect (the molds will dry up and disappear when exposed to drier air). Black surface mold is always scored as a defect—as a guide, score when the black mold affects an area greater than 1/2 inch; be careful to search for decay if you see any type of mold: white, gray, or black.
Source: Tom Yawman, International Produce Training, www.ipt.us.com.