Pomegranate horticulture



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Pomegranate horticulture is a relatively young business in California, with the first commercial crop being planted in 1994 in Ojai. There is a high level of optimism in the industry and some growers estimate this new crop will grow to $25 million in sales by 2003. There are approximately 1500 acres of commercial production in California.

Interest in the use of pomegranate horticulture has been fostered by a high level of awareness and interest in the health benefits and of recent research that have identified important nutritional and anti-oxidant properties of the fruit.

Pomegranate is probably the most popular of all the fruits worldwide, and is consumed as a fresh fruit in many forms. As a fruit, pomegranate is high in both nutritional and anti-oxidant value. The major components are ellagic acid, betaine, and tannins. Some berries may also be high in ellagic acid.

The most common commercial processing of pomegranate is into juice, pomegranate jelly, and dried slices or powder. Each of these methods has it own benefits and uses. The amount of fruit processed is relatively small, since each fresh fruit is sold in retail amounts of 12 ounces or so.

There are three major groups of pomegranate grown and processed in California.

Pomegranate juice is high in antioxidant value, which contributes to its appeal as a nutritious drink. The juice is now available year round, and is currently priced at $6-$10 per 12-ounce bottle. Juices are also used in drinks, and in some processed foods as a dietary supplement. Pomegranate juices can be found at most supermarkets in California.

Pomegranate pomegranate jelly is high in antioxidants and beneficial nutrients. The jelly is available throughout the year, but is highest in the winter. Jelly is a shelf-stable product and can be stored for a long time. Some manufacturers are using it as a substitute for cranberry jelly. Pomegranate jelly is available at stores throughout California in the winter.

Pomegranate powder is most commonly used in snacks and pet foods, and in some medicines. Pomegranate powder is rich in antioxidants, especially for its ellagic acid content. It is available throughout the year in most stores in California.

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Outlook of the Pomegranate Tree

Yields in California - The following chart shows yields for commercial production in California. The average harvest yield in California is reported as 15% by some grape producers.

Harvest Yield

1,500,000 Kilos/ Acre

Nursery Yield

200,000 Kilos/ Acre

Pod Yield

9,000 Kilos/ Acre

Total Yield

1,800,000 Kilos/ Acre

Seeds/ Acre

30,000 Kilos/ Acre

Production in the State of California

It is projected that pomegranate production in California will grow to almost 12,000,000 kilos/ year by 2005. The total sales of pomegranates in California in 2004 is around $5,600,000, with over $1.5 million of that sales in pomegranate juice, the most popular of the pomegranate products.

Approximately 1500 acres are planted in California, with production increasing year-to-year.

Major Pomegranate Producers in California

Here is a listing of some of the major pomegranate producers in California. The number of acres are from 2004 production figures and do not include hobby growers and other smaller producers.

Pomegranate Juice: As reported above, this is one of the more popular ways to eat pomegranate.

Pomegranate Jelly: This is usually mixed with cranberry jelly or jelly from other fruits. There are other ways to make it, such as boiling the fruit down to a liquid syrup, but it is most often a mixture of fruit, sugar, water, and sometimes some other fruit juices.

Pomegranate Powder: Most often used in pet foods and other foods.

From the research that has been done to date, it is clear that pomegranates are a very healthful fruit. Much of the data that have been collected so far about pomegranate, such as with their antibacterial and other properties, has been for their ability to inhibit cancer cells in in vitro (test tube) trials. This has not yet been tested for in vivo (in the body) effectiveness, and in many cases in vivo trials have not been done for pomegranates at all. In vitro studies indicate there are a number of ways that pomegranates can be used to help prevent or stop cancers. They can help reduce certain cancers, and the research that has been done on them for use as a prevention tool for cancer is encouraging. For example, there is substantial information that they can be effective in helping to prevent liver cancer. A number of studies indicate that ellagic acid is one of the major factors in this effect.

A number of studies have been done with the chemical called ellagic acid and pomegranate. They have indicated that ellagic acid can be effective in reducing the effects of some types of cancers, particularly of the bladder and the prostate. Research has been done with rats to test this, and results are encouraging. With breast and liver cancer, they are using pomegranate in combination with other cancer treatments. It may be effective in helping to reduce the side effects of these therapies. They are also using pomegranate juice as a prevention tool to help reduce the development of cancer. Research has shown that when pomegranate juice was given to mice, they appeared to be more resistant to developing cancer. There are a number of articles out there on the subject, one of which is here.

In humans, studies have shown that pomegranate juice can be beneficial to help prevent cancer. An early study on the subject showed that 200


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