Pomegranate bloom drop means less volume, but quality remains good
Once again, pomegranate volume is expected to be down this season, but fruit quality should be good.
“We’re looking at a 15% to 20% reduction from last year,” said Tom Tjerandsen, manager of the Sonoma, Calif.-based Pomegranate Council.
Last year’s fresh-market harvest was 6 million 25-pound box equivalents.
An abundance of rain and wind during bloom period in the spring were the culprits causing the reduction in volume.
“We had a lot of bloom drop,” Tjerandsen said.
But quality should be good.
“What remains on the tree is excellent quality and color and high brix,” he said.
Los Angeles-based The Wonderful Co. LLC will have a lighter crop this year than last because of those heavy winds and rain, said Charlotte Mostaed, director of marketing.
“These rains hit when the trees were in full bloom, and the blossoms were very vulnerable to wind and rain,” she said. “The result was a significant loss of blossoms and a resulting decrease in our fruit set versus a normal crop.”
Meanwhile, the arils category has been performing well.
“We’re seeing strong tailwinds for the arils category over the last five years as consumers seek healthier and more convenient snacking options,” she said.
Arils category sales have experienced double-digit growth since 2014, she added.
DJ Forry Co., Pismo Beach, Calif., started shipping its early proprietary Rubilee variety the week of Aug. 25, said Ray England, vice president of marketing.
“It’s a real pretty piece of fruit,” he said, and will be available until about the third week of September, when harvesting begins for the angel red variety.
DJ Forry will start picking the wonderful variety in early October.
Like other tree fruit in the state, pomegranates are expected to start about 10 days later than usual, England said.
Although there is no official census, it appears that the number of trees has diminished after an oversupply three or four years ago prompted some growers to abandon pomegranates in favor of almonds, pistachios or citrus, he said.
The harvest also seemed to be running slightly behind for Trinity Fruit Sales Co. Inc., Fresno, Calif., but Levon Ganajian, director of retail relations, expected a decent crop this year.
“Everything looks good so far,” he said Aug. 22.
The company increased its organic acreage this year, but Ganajian said organic pomegranates are more difficult to move than organic stone fruit.
He surmised that the thick skin on pomegranates convinces many consumers that, from a food safety standpoint, it’s not necessary to invest in organic fruit.
Organic acreage accounts for 6% to 7% of Trinity Fruit’s pomegranates, and Ganajian said the company hopes eventually to boost that number to 10%.
“We have customers who rely on us for organic,” he said.
Despite the good-looking crop in late summer, early fall precipitation would put a crimp in the pomegranate harvest, said Jeff Simonian, sales manager for Simonian Fruit Co., Fowler, Calif.