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Banner pomegranate season projected

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

Ralph Melendez, field operations manager for Slaydeco Inc., a principal grower of early season varieties, expects the company'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 said. "We are seeing high color in the Granada’s, with a normal range of sizes. Our Foothills will follow by about a week.”

Jeff Simonian of Simonian Fruit Co. also reported that its early-season varieties are running a week early. When asked about the possible effects 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 color.”

Tom Rouse of PomWonderful, the principal grower-shipper of the Wonderful variety, said its field managers were 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," he said. "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.”

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