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How to farm pomegranates


(The Genuine Californian Wonderful)

The leading commercially produced cultivar in the world due to its natural resistance to adverse conditions and high yield potential.

Colour: Bright Red Variety | Size: 500g/fruit | Sweet Sour type with relatively hard seeds | Harvest: late (area dependent) | Juice & Aril extraction rates are 30-35% by total weight | Brix: 16.5%
(Originates from Azerbaijan)

In taste tests in Australia, Azerbaijani was preferred in the high-yielding segment.

Colour: Pink Variety | Size: 400g/fruit | Sweet type with large arils and softer seeds | Harvest: early | Aril and juice extraction ratios are 40-50% by total weight | Brix: 18%

Trials on Riverside Nursery are currently underway for more information on this relatively unknown variety.

Colour: Pink Variety | Size: 300-400g/fruit | Sweet type with soft seeds | Harvest: early

We believe that multipurpose cultivars should be planted, so that the first fruits in the season can be packed whole for either the export or domestic market.  Thereafter the fruit can be used in aril extraction. Fruit which has split or has some internal breakdown can go for juicing.

Poms are adapted to a wide range of climates from subtropical to Mediterranean areas with cool winters and hot summers and are hardy down to -11degC

All varieties will benefit from a rest period or dormancy, but the majority of cultivars do not require winter chill hours.  Trees are more susceptible to frost damage prior to reaching full dormancy in autumn and at bud break in the spring.  The bark is the most susceptible. Painting bark with white pvc paint will reduce the fluctuations between day and night temperatures.

Trees are drought tolerant, but irrigation is necessary during tree establishment and critical for commercial fruit production.

Sun exposure & air circulation are also important.  Pomegranates need at least 6hrs of direct sunlight a day to ensure good fruit colour & productivity.  Orchard rows aligned North-South will maximize sun exposure.

Pomegranates perform best on deep loamy soil, but do fairly well in sandy and light clay soils.  Pomegranates prefer well drained soils.  Extended periods of excess moisture will harm the tree.

Trees grow best in a pH range of 6.5. – 7.5.

Pomegranates are moderately tolerant to salts and can withstand irrigation with water containing 2000 – 2500 ppm salt.

A sound orchard practise is to row rip the soil to a depth of one metre and create a ridge before planting. One can make a small basin around the tree

Digging of plant holes: Dig holes a minimum of +-500mm x 500mm x 500mm (deep). If the soil hasn’t been ripped consider digging the holes double this size.

To enable rapid establishment, all other vegetation should be removed within a 300-600 mm of the young trees. Grass can be removed with a weed killer and followed by organic mulching to prevent weed and grass competition as well as to conserve soil moisture. Ensure that ants and termites are dealt with prior to planting

It is advisable that an irrigation system is put in place before planting.

Plants are best planted from spring through to February. Do not expose the roots to sunlight or dry conditions during planting

Based on the results of a soil analysis one can add 200-400 grams of superphosphates to the planting hole, carefully mixed in with the topsoil. Never allow the roots of young trees to come in direct contact with the concentration of freshly applied phosphate fertiliser. No further fertiliser should be applied during the first 4-6 weeks after planting.

As the trees are container-grown in soil less medium, it is best to shake the trees so that only 20% of the potting medium is left on the root ball so as to expose the peripheral roots to the soil. Such trees should commence growth soon after planting. Post planting; fill the basin with water as it will eliminate any air pockets in the planting hole.

In areas where one can expect heavy frost conditions during planting time, it is advisable to wait until conditions improve before planting. Frost can cause extensive damage to trees, and in some areas it will be necessary to cover the planted trees, to protect them from severe frost conditions.

Planting distances: We recommend distances like 4x3m (833 trees per hectare) or 5x3m (666 trees per hectare). Whilst some producers are planting 1000 trees per ha, 3×3 metres or 5x2m and even experimenting with planting of 1600 trees per ha.

Although a very drought tolerant plant, ensuring adequate soil moisture will result in a faster growing pomegranate plant and increased fruit yield.

Drip irrigation is preferred, with a dripper placed on each side of the tree.  Overhead sprays will encourage the spread of field pathogens and will reduce fruit set as flowers are very sensitive to humidity and moisture.

Irrigation management is essential between flowering and fruit ripening, as moisture stress leads to flower and fruit drop and fruit cracking at maturity

Fruit will mature from February to April. Commercial harvesting normally starts in the 4rd year, approx. 10 -12 kg fruit per tree, increasing to 15 – 18 kg in year 5; and 18-25 kg in year 6, reaching towards 40-60 kg at maturity (cultivar dependant).

The pomegranate has similar storage properties to the apple in having a long storage life. It is best maintained at a temperature of 0º-5ºC and may be kept for a period of 3-5 months within this temperature range and at 80 to 85% relative humidity, without shrinking or spoiling.