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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pomegranates Come in a Wide Range of Colors

Q. I planted a pomegranate tree two years ago and this year it produced six fruit. One was of decent size while the others are on the small side. When the large one split I picked it only to find the inside was light pink. The seeds were well developed but not the expected red color.
What can I do to improve the fruit on this tree? 
This is what we expect to see inside a pomegranate because we are used to seeing only Wonderful variety of pomegranate

A. The key question will be how sweet the fruit was. Some pomegranate varieties will have fruit where the insides, the arils, never develop a dark red color. Some of them can be quite pale and anemic-looking in color. 
This is Ambrosia pomegrante. The arils are pale, nearly white. This fruit is ripe and ready for picking. However, I was not very impressed with the taste of this variety when freshly picked. It improved alot if kept in cold storage for a couple of weeks. Harvested in September in southern Nevada. Still a variety I would not recommend for our climate.

            You would not expect this on a pomegranate variety such as Wonderful, which has dark red outer skin while the fruit inside, the arils, are also dark red. Because this type of pomegranate represents probably over 95% of all our pomegranates planted, everyone thinks a pomegranate has to be dark red on the outside and dark red on the inside.
            This is not true. There are several varieties of pomegranate which do not. Pomegranate rind or skin can vary in color from lemon yellow through all shades of pink and red all the way to purple. The insides can be nearly white to dark red or even purplish red. The key to whether they are ripe is the taste.
This basket of pomegrantes will give you an idea of the wide range of colors that pomegrantes can come in. (Picture from Acta Horticulturae, publication of ISHS).

            If you have one of these varieties which are not red, you will never get dark red on the inside or the outside no matter what you do. A good example is a fairly common variety that we call locally Utah Sweet. You will find quite a few of these growing in the Las Vegas Valley.
            When a pomegranate is ready for harvesting the insides will become sweet tasting. The amount of "pucker" or tanins or bitterness will vary as well from extremely “pucker” to very sweet with very little “puckery” flavor depending on the variety. But the key to when it is ready is how sweet it is, not necessarily colors.
Here is a pomegranate I found for sale in a village in northeast Tajikistan. Very unique. Yellow on the outside with very beautiful dark red arils on the inside and very tasty.
            If your variety of pomegranate is the darker red type, just wait longer and leave it on the tree. If it is a variety that will never turn dark red, then look for the fruit splitting and begin to start sampling for sweetness.
            Depending on the variety, pomegranates begin to ripen in September and can last well into November. Wonderful pomegranate, the most common variety in the Valley, is usually ready right around Halloween.

1 comment:

  1. I live in Southern California and have a tree that was on the property when I moved here 40 years ago. It was a twig entwined in another big tree of another variety (not pomegranate) When that tree had to be cut due to disease the pomegranate flourished and produced nice fruit. It is hard for me to tell when they are ripe so I just wait until they pop open. This outside of these are pale yellow with a little blush to them. Inside is very red and sweet. Some got sunburned this year and the inside on the sides where they burned stayed colorless. I was wondering if you could tell me the variety of pom that I have?