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Optimism among pomegranate growers

California Central Valley crop is enjoying strong growing conditions, with shipping expected earlier than normal

Optimism among pomegranate growers

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Growers throughout the California Central Valley are reporting optimal growing conditions for pomegranates.

Ralph Melendez, field operations manager for early season grower Slaydeco, said he expected his group's Granada’s to start shipping by the end of the last week of July.

“A consistently warm summer has moved our traditional start date forward by about a week," he explained. "We are seeing high colour in the Granada’s, with a normal range of sizes. Our Foothills will follow by about a week."

Jeff Simonian of Simonian Fruit Company reported that his early season varieties were running a week early.

When asked about the possible impact of the drought on the overall size and quality of the crop, he said that “it appears that sufficient water is being diverted from annual crops to ensure a normal pomegranate harvest in terms of total volume, range of fruit sizes, sugar and colour.”

Tom Rouse of PomWonderful, the principal grower/shipper of the Wonderful variety, noted that “their field managers are also projecting an early start date. If Mother Nature continues to cooperate, we’ll start shipping a full-range of Wonderful sizes starting in the last week of September or early in the first week of October. At that point we’ll also be refilling the pipeline with fresh-pack arils.

"We encourage retailers to contact us to find out more about our full-line of market-proven sales aids. Pomegranates are a high impulse purchase item and they sell best when merchandised in a high-traffic location in the store,” he added.

Sales of pomegranates continue to increase at an average of 20 per cent per year, with total shipments expected to exceed 6m 25-pound equivalent boxes, according to Tom Tjerandsen, manager of the Sonoma-based Pomegranate Council.

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