How And When To Pick And Store Pomegranate Fruit

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This article provides information about when and how to harvest pomegranate fruit
by Brett · All Zones · Fruit Trees · 0 Comments · September 22, 2013 · 9,626 views

So you are growing pomegranate bushes or trees and now you want to know when you should pick and how you should store the fruit. Here's a little info and tips for picking and storing pomegranate fruit.

How long does it take a pomegrante to produce fruit?

If you've planted small seedlings (plants grow from seed) don't expect to get fruit during the first several years. You might get flowers, but the fruit tends to drop during the first few years. This is totally normal. Generally, it takes pomegranates seedlings 3 or 4 years to start bearing quality fruit.

On the other hand, shrubs grown from cuttings are more likely to retain their fruit in the first few years. Most plants available in nurseries are grown from cuttings. I suggest buying container-grown plants that are in a 1 gallon size container or larger. These plants have usually been grown from cutting and will already be at the 2 to 3 year age for fruit production. The larger size the container usually means the older the plant. The older the plant, the more fruit you can expect.

There are a few varieties of pomegranate on the market that will produce a few small fruit during the first year when grown from cuttings. 'Wonderful' is probably the most readily available among these early-bearing varieties.

Depending on the variety though, and there are far too many to name here, there is a difference in the time that fruit production starts. Some are late coming into bearing and some are early. By the 5th year, most varieties of pomegranates should be bearing a god crop of fruit...maybe 10 pounds or so. By the 10th year most varieties are fully bearing, and production can increase to the 20th year. How much fruit a pomegranate will produce will depend on the variety, care, and environmental factors. Most of the productive varieties will yield 60 to 100 pounds per shrub on a mature plant. Some of the heaviest producing varieties can produce as much as 400 pounds on a large, older shrub.

When to pick pomegranate fruits...

Depending on the region and environmental factors, pomegrantes can begin ripening from August to the middle of October. You can extend the production season by planting varieties that with different ripening times. The sweet-fruited varieties tend to ripen first, followed by the sweet-tart varieties with slight variances in both groups. Regardless of the variety, the fruit do not all ripen at the same time and must be picked over at least twice, usually a week or two apart. Also, the fruit are not all of the same size when they become ripe. Fruit size can be from 2 inches on the small fruited varieties and a few of the ornamental varieties, to more than 6 inches on the larger fruited varieties. Seed size and aril size varies with variety.

So, when to pick? It's best to pick the fruit right before they are fully mature or they will try to crack open. Try to cut the fruit as close to full ripening time as possible because the fruit do not ripen off the tree although they get a little sweeter in storage. To determine whether or not the fruits are ripe and ready for picking you can tap them with your finger. When they give a metallic sound when tapped they should be ready to pick.

How to pick pomegranate fruits...

Actually, you don't want to pick or pull the fruits from the bush or tree. Instead you want to cut them off with a sharp pair of bypass hand pruners or a sharp knife. If you pull it off you will most likely cause damage to the fruit and it won't store well. So, just get some pruners and cut the fruit off the stem. It's best to cut the stem as close to fruit as possible so that if you are storing the fruit together the stems won't rub on other fruit in the package or container.

Storing pomegranate fruits...

Regarding storage life, pomegranates are similar to apples. The pomegranate is comparable to an apple in its storage life. For anyone interested in commercial production, it is important to note that the fruit lose weight in storage, so sell your fruit as soon a possible. This weight loss depends on your method of storage and will be largest in fruit left at room temperature. For fruit to keep the longest, it is best to maintain a 40 - 45 degrees F with a relative humidity of 85%. Keep in mind that only clean undamaged fruit should be stored. Fruit can be stored for up to 3 months and still be saleable, and edible for longer than that.

If you are storing fruit at home the crisper of your refrigerator will keep the fruit in good condition for an extended time. If you don;t have room to store all the fruit, consider juicing and concentrating it or make it into syrup. That way you have less to store and the juice concentrate can be reconstituted when needed or used in recipes.

Happy pomegranate picking!


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