What is in this article?:
- Pomegranate interest expands across California agriculture
- Substantial acreage
- There is expanding interest in pomegranates that cover more than 30,000 acres of California and have a $115 million farm gate value in just Kern County, home to Paramount Farming, which has dramatically boosted interest in the crop.
- Growers and consultants were told the good, bad and ugly of the pomegranate industry — the diversity in colorful fruit, the insects that can cause a lot of damage and fungi that can make juice or fresh fruit unpalatable.
The worst insect pest in pomegranates is the omnivorous leaf roller, said Walt Bentley, a UC entomologist. “Weedy areas can be a key source,” he said, recounting his observation of a weedy orchard floor where mustard abounded and infestation was at 60 percent.
He said the Wonderful variety amounts to about 90 percent of the market in California, adding that production was down about 30 percent for Wonderful this year. He said the fruit was not as sweet this year, likely because of cooler temperatures during the growing season.
Moersfelder said the Kara Gul has the darkest seeds and “readily gets heart rot.” He recommended researchers study it because of its heightened vulnerability.
He also showed slides of several ornamental varieties of pomegranates and one dwarf variety.
The meeting closed with comments from Maxwell Norton, UC farm advisor in Merced County. He said data from county pesticide registrations showed these acreages for five counties “with substantial planted acres of pomegranates.”
Kern County, 13,481 planted acres.
Fresno County, 5,744 planted acres.
Madera County, 5,057 planted acres.
Kings County, 4,132 planted acres.
Tulare County, 3,324 planted acres.
Norton also distributed a letter from the UC Cooperative Extension office in Merced asking for help in calling attention to cutbacks in staffing of farm advisors statewide.
“A few counties are not being staffed at minimum levels,” it read. “Madera County, for instance, is one of our nation’s major agricultural producers but they are down to one full-time advisor. Fresno County, the nation’s leading tree fruit county has no tree crop advisors. Kern County, the nation’s top almond producer has no almond advisor. This sad list goes on and on.”