Mature Fruits of Punica Granatum
Mature Fruits of Punica Granatum

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

With the article Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate, a new series of crop guides is being launched by ‘Kalliergeia’.

The series is aimed at informing the professional Pomegranate farmers about the prerequisites and right cultivation practices of the fruit tree, which are intended to help him with the decisions that has to make and the manipulations that has to carry out to effectively manage the Pomegranate fruit crop.

It also seeks to provide the comprehensive (and not patchy) information of the potential Pomegranate grower about whether, in a given place and under the prevailing conditions, it is worth embarking on the admittedly extremely interesting adventure of cultivating this particular fruit tree.

Because Pomegranate is indeed a special plant, with many and remarkable peculiarities even as an object of knowledge.

Without going into detail in this introductory note, we will only mention one thing: although it is estimated that Pomegranate domestication began somewhere in the Neolithic era, scientific work and agricultural research on Fruit of Paradise is remarkably few.

So it will probably not be too far from reality if we use the term anecdotal documentation in place of the term scientific bibliography of recommendations for the Pomegranate cultivation.

The anecdotal documentation explains both the many contradictions and the diametrically opposed views and recommendations of writers and researchers on individual topics related to this subject.

But more on this issue will be said along the way.

Climate Requirements of Pomegranate

Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) is one of the few fruit crops that can be grown in areas where other productive fruit trees are difficult to grow or the conditions there are prohibitive for their cultivation.

And although it is a plant that grows mainly in the Mediterranean climate type of the temperate zone, characterized by mild winters and hot and dry summers, however, as it is extremely adaptable, it can be successfully cultivated and indeed cultivate in both subtropical climates and semi-arid tropical to arid and anhydrous.

From climatic factors, light, temperature, humidity and rainfall are among the critical permissible or dissuasive elements considered for the establishment of commercial Pomegranate plantations.

All of these as well as other climate factors are mentioned immediately below.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Climate Requirements of Pomegranate - Temperature

Regarding temperatures, Pomegranate exhibits excellent tolerance over a wide range of values, most notably with respect to temperature peaks.

It withstands temperatures that often exceed 38 to 40 °C (100-104 °F), and can withstand temperatures of 48 °C (118 °F) – a rate often seen in Saudi Arabia, for example, which is one of the plant’s growing areas.

As for minimum temperature rates, most Pomegranate varieties are not recommended for planting in those areas where temperatures fall below -10 °C (14 °F) in winter.

Exceptions are the few cold hardy varieties, such as Punica granatum ‘Kazake’ and P. granatum ‘Salavatsky’ cultivated without problems up to -12 to -12.5 °C (10.4-9.5 °F).

Favorable temperatures for professional planting and cultivation of Pomegranate are those ranging between 5 and 38 °C (41-100 °F), while the optimum temperature range is between 23 and 32 °C (73.4-89.6 °F).

Winter Chill Hours Requirements

There are many reports of the necessary chill hours of Punica granatum (exposure of fruit tree to temperatures below 7 °C – 44.6 °F) that range from 100 to as high as 400.

However, these recommendations mostly do not have sufficient scientific documentation, as most Pomegranate cultivars or varieties do not necessarily need winter chilling.

Many Punica granatum cultivars or varieties grown in semi-tropical areas, such as the west side of central India, are not exposed to low or frost temperatures, and yet they are extremely productive, while some of them are evergreen.

The exception here are some of the most low temperature tolerant cultivars or varieties of the species, which, in fact, require a few hours of exposure to winter chilling for normal fruiting.

Tolerance of Pomegranate Varieties to Low Temperatures

The tolerance of various commercial and non cultivars and varieties of Pomegranate to low temperatures is related both to the typical plant size of each cultivar or variety and to the hardness or non of seeds.

Thus the tolerance follows the shape of dwarf varieties < soft-seeded < hard-seeded varieties.

According to the above it is stated that the dwarf varieties of Pomegranate have a temperature threshold of tolerance, that is, the survival of the trees, -7 °C (19.4 °F), the soft-seeded varieties  -11 to -12 °C (12.2-10.4 °F), while those with hard seeds -16 to -17 °C (3.2-1.4 °F), being the most tolerant.

But at these extreme low temperatures, although the trees do not die, production is severely damaged.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Climate Requirements of Pomegranate - Frost

Pomegranates, belonging to the subtropical fruits and growing in warm climates in general, are extremely susceptible to frost, especially when they have not entered the phase of dormancy.

Autumn as well as spring frosts are especially dangerous, as they can damage not only the production of trees but also the Pomegranate trees itself.

Consequently, the establishment of commercial Pomegranate plantations should be avoided in those areas with frequent autumn and spring frosts.

Frost Damage to Pomegranate Orchards

Observations made in the state of California (San Joaquin Valley) highlight the importance of avoiding the establishment of commercial Pomegranate plantations in frost-stricken areas:

  • Low temperatures of -3 °C (1.4 °F) were recorded in early March 2008 and again in 2009. Mature Pomegranate trees were not affected by the phenomenon, but a significant number of young and not well establishment Pomegranate orchards were severely damaged by shoot dieback of the plants, forcing growers to start over again and re-grow trees from resulting ground suckers.
  • In December 1990, frost occurred with unusually low seasonal temperatures ranged from -6 to -8 °C (21.2-17.6 °F). In this case, a significant number of fully established and mature Pomegranate plantations were damaged severely with death of scaffolds and the consequences of phenomenon followed the plants for years afterwards. As for the young plantations, these have been completely destroyed – possibly and the unfortunates farmers.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Climate Requirements of Pomegranate - Rainfall

For the commercial Pomegranate orchards, the choice of the appropriate climate region for rainfall is related to both the mean annual rainfall and the distribution of rainfall throughout the year.

It is generally recommended that Pomegranate planting be carried out in areas with mean annual rainfall ranging between 180 and 1000 mm, preferably those with a rainfall of between 500 and 800 mm.

On the contrary, it is not recommended to plant Pomegranate trees where the mean annual rainfall exceeds 1000 mm, especially when a large proportion of them fall during the summer and/or autumn months.

When this happens, infestations of pests and diseases occur on both the trees and the fruits themselves. In these conditions, management and flowering treatment becomes difficult and economically unprofitable.

But even if pests and diseases do not affect Pomegranates plants, the fruits become soft and, consequently, the producer’s financial loss.

Note

While there is general agreement on the favorable lower mean annual rainfall of 180+ mm, the widespread used Iranian Pomegranate cultivar Malas Yazdi appears to be successfully cultivated in areas with a mean annual rainfall of 59.2 mm.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Climate Requirements of Pomegranate - Drought

Pomegranate tree is an extremely drought tolerant plant and its cultivation is favored even in semi-arid to arid tropical climate.

Of course for the establishment of commercial Pomegranate plantations, the existence of an irrigation system is necessary, but this does not undermine the resistance of the friut tree to dry-heat conditions.

However, the lack of water, especially during the flowering phase, leads to flower drop and reduce the harvest to the lowest level.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Climate Requirements of Pomegranate - Humidity & Fog

High levels of atmospheric humidity form a limiting factor to the establishment of a commercial Pomegranate plantation.

However, even in this case it is important whether high humidity is a permanent feature of an area or the phenomenon occurs with fluctuations and decreases throughout the year.

Thus, high atmospheric humidity during the flowering period results in bad or not at all fertilization of the flowers and consequently fruit failure.

On the other hand, if in the spring the humidity remains low, tolerable, then fruits are formed, even if the following summer the humidity rises to higher or even high levels.

At any rate, in the autumn, during the pomegranate ripening phase, high atmospheric humidity causes significant economic damage because it results in cracking of the fruits.

Therefore, such areas should be avoided for Pomegranate plantation, as well as those where fogs are prevalent throughout the year.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Climate Requirements of Pomegranate - Wind

Pomegranate does not withstand the moderately strong and strong cold winds. Because of this sensitivity, areas often windiest or even those with a high frequency of moderately strong to high cold winds should be avoided for Punica granatum planting.

Alternatively, care should be taken to protect it, either by setting up windbreaks or planting them in sheltered places.

On the contrary, Pomegranate has no problem with dry warm winds even in combination with extremely high temperatures of 45 to 48 °C (113-118.4 °F), except the phase of blooming: in this case the petals of its flowers are scorched.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Climate Requirements of Pomegranate - Exposure

Pomegranate is a heliophyte (photophilic) species and therefore thrives in full sun exposure areas and locations. The abundant sunshine combined with the dry climate favor the production of high quality Pomegranate fruits.

And this is because the exposure of the Pomegranate trees to the full sun allows the fruits to fully develop their organoleptic characteristics and favors the acquisition of the normal color of each cultivar and variety.

By saying places of full sun exposure, it is meant that the plant receive direct sunlight at least 6 to 8 hours per day.

Otherwise, when the Pomegranate tree receives direct sunlight for less than 6 hours, it forms elongate and thin shoots and at the same time it set scarce and rather poorly developed fruits.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Pomegranate really shows that it has minimal requirements for the type of soil that is suitable for its cultivation. From sandy to rocky and gravelly soils, and from relatively shallow to deep, including all intermediate soil types, it can be cultivated with satisfactory or very satisfactory results.

Also, neither the reaction of the soil appears to be an inhibiting factor for its planting, nor the presence of active lime, as Pomegranate trees develops normally even when its soil content is between 12 and 15%.

All of these as well as other soil factors are detailed below.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Soil Requirements of Pomegranate - Soil Type

The Pomegranate adapts and develops to almost all soil types, regardless of composition or texture, provided they do not waterlogged.

Of course, for each different soil type, proper cultivation practice must also be followed in order for Pomegranate trees to be productive. For example, in light sandy soils the plants should be supported with irrigation and enhanced fertilization.

However, the most favorable soil for the establishment of a commercial Pomegranate plantation is the rich in organic matter alluvial sandy loam, which has excellent nutrient-holding capacity and drainage, while retains the necessary moisture.

Its depth should be at least 60 cm, but the best results are at high depths of 1.50 m or more.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Soil Requirements of Pomegranate - Soil Humidity

Pomegranate is a plant that has no problems with prolonged drought, once it is established, that is, after the 3rd year of its planting.

However, the constant moisture content of the soil – sometimes even at high rates – contributes to Pomegranate trees maximum productivity and prevents fruit cracking.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Soil Requirements of Pomegranate - Salinity

Pomegranate can be planted and can give satisfactory production even in saline soils with an electrical conductivity (EC) of up to 6 dS / m.

In other words, it could be said that the plant has a high tolerance to salinity (Melgarejo, 2003).

Note

According to some authors, Punica granatum is characterized as a glycophyte (any plant that can only tolerate relatively low concentrations of salt), and therefore can tolerate only soils with very low levels of salinity.

But even in these soils, according to the same authors, the plant don’t bear fruit well, its productivity is low, so its cultivation is considered unprofitable.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Soil Requirements of Pomegranate - Soil pH

As to the suitable pH of the soil aqueous solution that contributes to the normal development of Pomegranate, the ‘Kalliergeia’ editorial team quotes the following, cited from various bibliographic sources:

  • The suitable soil pH for Pomegranate cultivation ranges from 5.5 to 7.2
  • The suitable soil pH for Pomegranate cultivation ranges from 6.0 to 8.0
  • The suitable soil pH for Pomegranate cultivation ranges from 5.5 to 7.0
  • Optimal soil pH ranges from 6.5 to 7.5.
  • The suitable soil pH for Pomegranate cultivation ranges from 5.5 to 7.5, while the optimum pH ranges from 5.5 to 6.5.
  • The range of soil pH at which Pomegranate can be grown ranges from 4.5 to 8.2, but the best results are achieved at a pH range of 5.5 to 7.2.
  • With proper crop management, Pomegranate grows best to a soil pH of up to 8.5.

Note

From the above it becomes more than obvious that the suitable soil pH for the cultivation of Pomegranate is found with the suitable dice in the suitable place, while the optimum is found by visiting a Professional Psychic Medium – Astrologer (with hereditary charisma)
that helps the grower in getting optimum results.

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate - Pomegranate Mature Fruits on Tree
Pomegranate Mature Fruits on Tree

Soil Requirements of Pomegranate - An Interesting Research

An interesting field experiment conducted in India on the variety of Pomegranate Bhagwa (Punica granatum cv. Bhagwa) in gravelly, shallow skeletal soils (Orthents – Lithosols by FAO), and in trapezoidal shaped pits:

  • Where the pits were filled with clayey soil, there was also the maximum supply of pomegranates to macronutrients.
  • Where the pits were filled with loamy soil, there was also the maximum supply of pomegranates in trace elements.
  • In the Pomegranates growing in the pits with the loamy soil, there was also the highest number of hermaphrodite flowers
  • Pomegranates grown in pits with light textured soil also recorded maximum values of fruit quality characteristics, expressed as juice content (49.3%), total soluble solids (TSS 15.7 °B) and total soluble solids:acid ratio(TSS/acid 37.8)
  • The highest crop yield (4280 kg/ha) was obtainedin Pomegranates grown on a 60 cm deep clayey soil.
  • Pomegranates grown at twice the depth (1.20 m) of clayey soil showed an increase in plant diseases prevalence and a significant decrease in yield, reaching almost 50% of the above (2250 kg/ha)

Climate & Soil Requirements of Pomegranate

References

The References to the first article of the series dedicated to the commercial cultivation of Pomegranate, proudly and sternly, are presented by the Chimerini Kolymvites (Χειμερινοί Κολυμβητές – Winter Swimmers) music band with their song I Treli Rodia (Η Τρελή Ροδιά – The Mad Pomegranate Tree), on poetry by Odysseas Elytis (Nobel Prize in Literature – 1979).

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Chimerini Kolymvites - The Mad Pomegranate Tree
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  1. Ashton, R. W. (2006). The Incredible Pomegranate: Plant and Fruit. Tempe, AZ: Third Millennium Publishing.
  2. Cuevas, A. (2018). Pomegranate Production and Marketing. Scitus Academics LLC.
  3. Hiwale, S. S. (2009). The Pomegranate. New India Publishing.
  4. Kahramanoglu, I., & Usanmaz, S. (2016). Pomegranate Production and Marketing. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
  5. Levin, G. M. (2006). Pomegranate Roads: A Soviet Botanist’s Exile from Eden(1st ed.). Floreant Pr.
  6. Marathe, R. A., Sharma, J., & Murkute, A. A. (2018). Innovative soil management for sustainable pomegranate cultivation on skeletal soils. Soil Use and Management, 34(2), 258-265.  
  7. Moreno, P. M., & Hernández, D. M. (2003). Tratado de fruticultura para zonas áridas y semiáridas. Mundi-Prensa Libros.
  8. Özgüven, A., Yılmaz, C., & Keleş, D. (2012). Pomegranate Biodiversity and Horticultural Management. Acta Horticulturae, (940), 21-28.
  9. Stone, D. (2017). Pomegranate: A Global History. London, England: Reaktion Books.

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