Introduction about Pomegranate Farming: – Pomegranate is one of the commercial fruit crops of India. It is native to the Iran (Persia). Pomegranate is known as a drought tolerant crop, yet regular irrigation is mandatory to commercial yield production. Water levels and optimal irrigation regime depend on a plurality of factors as soil type, tree size, physiological phase and potential evaporation. As a rule the tree needs little supplemental irrigation. The commonly used irrigation regime in pomegranate orchards relies mainly on the experience gained by growers and less on formal experiments.
Suitable climate for Pomegranate farming: – Pomegranate prefers dry climate. During fruit development, prolonged hot and dry climate is required. Optimum temperature congenial for fruit development is 38ᵒ C. In humid climate the fruits several damaged by pomegranate butterfly do not develop sweetness. It is winter hardy and very drought tolerant. It can grow up to an elevation of 1850 meters.
Pomegranate grows well under semi-arid conditions and can be grown up to an altitude of 500m above M.S.L. It thrives well under hot, dry summer and cold winter provided irrigation facilities are available. The tree requires hot and dry climate during fruit development and ripening. Pomegranate tree is deciduous in areas of low winter temperature and an ever green or partially deciduous in tropical and sub-tropical conditions. It can tolerate frost to a considerable extent in dormant stage, but is injured at temperature below-110C.
Pomegranate Varieties: – In recent years several new varieties have been developed and new orchards have come with well known improved varieties.
Ganesh: – This is a selection from ‘Alandi’ developed by Dr. Cheema at Pune which has revolutionized cultivation of pomegranate in Maharashtra state. This has soft seeds and pinkish flesh with juice of agreeable taste and bears heavily.
Dholka: – Popular variety of Gujarat with fruits of large size, rind greenish yellow, flesh aril pinkish white seeds soft, juice acidic. It is a medium cropper.
Jodhpur Local: – Medium sized fruit with hard rind, fleshy aril light pink, sweet, juicy, seed moderately hard.
Seedless (Bedana): – Fruit medium to large in size, rind brownish green, fleshy aril light pink or whitish, very sweet, very juicy, soft seeded, “Bassein seedless & KVK-1” are from Karnataka and ‘Jalore Selection’ are popular names in north India. In south India, ‘Paper Shell’, ‘Spanish Ruby’, ‘Muscat Red & Velladu’ have shown promise.
Other pomegranate varieties: – Cultivated in India are Alandi or Vadki, Kandhari, Kabul, Muskati Red, Paper Shelled, Spanish Ruby. G 137, P 23, P 26. Mridula, Aarakta, Jyoti, Ruby, IIHR Selection, Yeercaud 1 and Co 1.
Propagation in Pomegranate farming: – Vegetative propagation is recommended in establishing pomegranate. Pomegranate by cutting is common. Cuttings should be taken from suckers which spring from the base of the main stem and should be mature about 20 to 30 cm long and 6-12 mm thick. Rany season is the best period to achieve maximum success.
Preparation of Land for pomegranate farming: – Land is prepared by plunging, harrowing, leveling and removing weeds.
Planting in Pomegranate farming: –
Planting Material: – Pomegranate farming: – Air layering is usually done during the rainy season and also in November-December. Planting is usually done in spring (February-March) and July-August in sub-tropical and tropical regions respectively.
Plant spacing in Pomegranate farming: – High density planting is adopted in temperate regions. A spacing of 5-6 m. in northern India and also in the plains of Deccan plateau is usually followed. High density planting with spacing gives 2-2.5 times more yield than that obtained when the normal planting distance of 5X 5 m is adopted. Farmers have adopted a spacing of 2.5 X 4.5m. Closer spacing increases disease and pest incidence.
Planting Method preferred in Pomegranate farming: –
• Square system of planting is mostly adopted. Planting distance is decided on the basis of soil type and climate. A spacing of 4-5m on marginal and very light soils is recommended.
• Pots of 60 X 60 X 60 cm size are dug (at a spacing of 5 cm in square system) about a month prior to planting and kept open under the sun for a fortnight. About 50g of 5% BHC or carbary dust is dusted on the bottom and sides of the pits as a pre-caution against termites. The pits are filled with top soil mixed with 20kg farmyard manure and 1 kg super phosphate. After filling the pit, watering is done to allow soil to settle down. Cutting/air layers are then planted and staked. Irrigation is provided immediately after planting.
Manures and Fertilizers in Pomegranate farming: –
• The recommended fertilizer dose is 600-700g N, 200-250g P205 and 200-250g K20/tree/year. Application of 10 kg farmyard manure and 75g ammonium sulphate to 5 year old tree annually is adequate, whereas application of 50 kg farmyard manure and 3.5 kg oil cake or 1 kg sulphate of ammonia prior to flowering is ideal for healthy growth and fruiting. The time of application is December/January for amber bather, May/June for Brig bather and October/November for haste bather.
• The basal dose of farmyard manure @ 25-40 cart-loads/hectares besides the recommended doses of N, P and K should be applied to non-bearing trees in 3 split doses coinciding with growth of flushes during January, June and September. Fruiting should be encouraged from fourth year onwards. Nitrogenous fertilizer is applied in two split doses starting at the time of first irrigation after bahar treatment and next at 3 week interval, whereas full dose of P and K should be applied at one time. These should be applied in a shallow circular trench below tree canopy not beyond a depth of 8-10 cm. After application, fertilizers are covered with top soil and irrigated.
Pests & Disease Management in Pomegranate farming: – In Pomegranate farming, Pomegranate butterfly and bark eating caterpillar are the common pests of Pomegranate.
The fruits are susceptible to fruit fly which needs to be controlled from flowering to button stage. At this stage spray of sevin (carbaryl) 0.2% (200gm/100 liter) or endosuplhan 0.05% at 10 days interval alternatively, must be given.
Fruit spot and fruit rot are the common fungal disease for which proper and regular spraying are made.
Physiological disorder: – Fruit cracking is a most serious physiological disorder in pomegranate which limits its cultivation. In young fruits it could be due to boron deficiency but fully grown fruits crack due to moisture imbalances as there are very sensitive to variations in soil moisture and humidity. Prolonged drought causes hardening of peel and if this is followed by heavy irrigation or down pour then the pulp grows and the peel cracks. This problem can be overcome by:
1. Maintaining soil moisture and not allowing wide variations in soil moisture depletion.
2. Cultivation of tolerant varieties.
3. Early harvesting not allowing the fruits to crack and
4. Spray of calcium hydroxide on leaves and on fruit set.
Irrigation/water supply: – Irrigation may be given depending on soil, climate and availability of water. First irrigation is provided in case of mrig bahar crop in the middle of May followed by regular irrigation till the monsoon sets in. Weekly irrigation in summers and that during winters at fortnight intervals is recommended. The check basin system of irrigation is usually followed. The average annual water requirement through drip irrigation is 20cm. Drip irrigation helps to increase the yield by 30-35%.
Training and Pruning:
• In Pomegranate farming, plants are trained on a single stem or in multi-stem system. Since the crops trained on single stem training system are more susceptible to pest’s viz. stem borer and shoot whole borer, the other system is more prevalent in the country.
• Pruning is not much required except for removal of ground suckers, water shoots, cross branches, dead and diseased twigs and also to give shape to the tree. A little thinning and pruning of old spurs is done to encourage growth of new ones.
Inter-Cultivation in Pomegranate farming: – Inter cropping with low growing vegetable, pulses or green manure crops are beneficial. In arid regions, inter-cropping is possible only during the rainy season, whereas winter vegetables are feasible in irrigated areas.
Regulation of flower bearing: – Pomegranate plants flower and provide fruits throughout the year in central and southern India. Depending on patterns of precipitation, flowering can be induced during June-July (mrig bahr), September-October (hasta bahar) and January to February (ambe bahar). In areas having assured rainfall where precipitation is normally received in June and continues up to September, flowering in June is advantageous; where monsoon normally starts in August, flowering during August is beneficial. Areas having assured irrigation potential during April-May flowering during January can be taken and where monsoon starts early and withdraws by September induction of flowering in October is possible. Considering comparable yields, prices and irrigation needs it is recommended that October cropping could be substituted for January flowering.
Harvesting and Yield of Pomegranate farming: – Pomegranate flowers take 5 to 6 months to be ready as mature fruits. They should be harvested mature which can be judged by change in skin color to slightly yellow and metallic sound when tapped. A grown up well kept tree should gibe about 100 to 150 fruits per year. A high density system with ‘Ganesh’ 1000 plant/hectare (5X2m) has been found very profitable giving a crop of 50 fruits/tree of good quality.
After harvesting, fruits can be cured in shade for about a week so that the skin becomes hard and fruits can stand transportation better. Thereafter, the fruits can be graded according to weight: –
• ‘A’ grade – 350g & above
• ‘B’ grade – 200 to 350g & above
• ‘C’ grade – Less than 200g
Cured fruits have good keeping quality which can further be prolonged through cold storage. When stored at 00C to 4.50C with 80% Relative Humidity fruit remain safe even for seven months.
Post Harvest management in Pomegranate farming: –
1. Grading and storage:
• Fruits are graded based on their weight, size and color. The various grades are super, king, queen and prince-sized. Besides that, pomegranates are also graded into two grades-12A and 12B. Fruits of 12 – A grade are generally preferred in southern and northern region.
• Fruits can be stored in cold storage up to 2 months or 10 weeks at a temperature of 50 C. Longer storage should be at 100 C and 95% RH to avoid chilling injury and weight loss.
2. Packing and Transportation:
• The size of packages varies according to the grade of the fruits. Corrugated fiber board boxes are mostly used. In a single box, 4-5 queen sized fruits, 12 princes sized and some of 12- A and 12- B grades may be packed. The white colored boxes having 5 plies are generally used for export purpose, whereas red colored ones having 3 plies are used for domestic markets. The red colored boxes are cheaper than white colored ones. The cut pieces of waste paper are generally used as cushioning material.
Marketing: – Majority of the producers sells their produce either through trade agents at village level or commission agents at the market.