Florida’s citrus industry has long been a pillar of our state economy, and the most famous type of citrus are the famous Florida oranges. But for those Florida landowners looking to venture into a new crop of citrus, the growth of pomegranates should be taken into consideration.
Pomegranates (Punica granatum) originated in the Eastern Hemisphere and are even featured in the Ancient Greek myth of Persephone. A red-purple fruit, the pomegranates hard shell can be cracked open to reveal the delectable cluster of juicy seeds within. Pomegranates and their juice are common ingredients in a variety of foods.
Pomegranates were brought over to the Americas following the Spanish colonization and are commonly grown in California and Arizona. At the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Florida Pomegranate Association was founded in 2012 to establish a system for Florida’s farmers to cultivate pomegranates.
Pomegranates grow in shrubs that can be up to 33 feet in height. The shrubs are known to be extremely resilient to age, with some shrubs in Europe having survived for over two centuries. There are many challenges to growing Pomegranates in a humid climate such as Florida’s. Pomegranates are known to be prone to fungal diseases which can often cause root decay.
While we may be a long way from a pomegranate industry arising in our state, Pomegranates are one of many alternative crops to take into consideration.