Cultivar Selection Guide for Florida-Grown Pomegranates
How reliable is the information? The tabulated information is derived from observations taken over the years 2010-2015 on young plants generally about 2-8 years old. However, there is an emphasis on observations collected in 2015 from a cooperator project in the Dundee area and earlier observations from the planting at Water Conserv II. The information is not perfect because variability can always be expected when farming a crop like pomegranates. Peel and aril color may vary depending on the weather [temperature; rainfall], but the cropping characteristics, fruit size and most of the other traits have proven to be reasonably consistent enough to be used in describing the cultivars as they grow in Florida. So, the answer to the question is: Reliable enough to be useful in comparing groups of cultivars and, to some extent, individual cultivars. For example, to find pomegranates for fresh use, one could start by only choosing that group of selections with soft seeds and then deciding which pomegranates to choose based on yield or other traits important to you. However, there certainly are pomegranate cultivars with distinctive and consistent characteristics like Vkusnyi, Christina and Girkanets that are expressed regardless of where the selections are grown in Florida.
Cold hardiness. In general, hard-seeded sweet/tart red varieties are thought to be the most cold hardy, i.e., their ability to withstand cold winter temperatures. Soft-seeded yellow selections are considered to be less tolerant. Placing the various pomegranate varieties into those categories is unproven in Florida. Like many other perennial tree crops, pomegranates, regardless of the type, seem to be vulnerable to winter cold as young plants [0-2 years old] and must be protected until established. Also, as with many plants, the expression of cold hardiness has a great deal to do with the natural ability of a plant and its interaction with the particular weather conditions in the Fall before Winter.
Conducting a customized query of the Selection Guide:
Click on the "QUERY" button in the orange banner at the top of the Selection guide.
In regard to specific traits included in the selection guide:
1. Yield Potential. Why "Potential?" A plant with a good crop on it in July usually has fewer fruit remaining 2 months later because of fruit splitting or drop or other diseases currently under study in Florida. Therefore, the term "Potential" is used to reflect what is commonly observed during the summer before any fruit losses occur.
2. Seed/Aril. The parts of pomegranate seeds are often confused. When the fruit is opened, the edible part is the seed. The seeds are covered with a seed coat. In the case of pom seed, the outer seed coat is a specialized fleshy or juicy structure called an aril. The "color" of the seed actually is located in the juice of the aril. Click here for a comparison of seed sizes.
3. Juice. As with the other traits, the comments represent a combination of experience; however, in this instance, the juice descriptions are mostly based on fruit harvested in late August-early September, 2015, from one trial located in Dundee. That is meaningful because for Florida, that harvest time was somewhat later than usual. Juice flavor might have been better than for fruit harvested earlier. There would likely be enhanced red color development.
4. USDA ID. In the U.S. National Clonal Germplasm Repository System, pomegranates are in a collection maintained at Davis, CA. The pomegranate accessions are identified by a DPUN number.
5. Fruit size. These ratings are "Mostly," i.e., if one observed a number of Afganski trees over a period of years, the fruit would MOSTLY be small- to medium-sized. There would be a few small fruit and a few large ones, but most of the fruit would be medium sized. Furthermore, fruit size may be affected by crop size, i.e., the larger the crop, the smaller individual fruit size might be regardless of the cultivar. However, if that is true for Florida-grown pomegranates, it has not been studied. Click here for a comparison of fruit sizes.