Discover a leader in Florida alternative crops: pomegranates.
Florida has a long growing season, and a lot of different crops grow well in The Sunshine State’s tropical and subtropical climate. Growers and producers are always on the lookout for Florida alternative crops, and pomegranates may just be the next big thing. Explore the potential of this leader in specialty crops, below.
Pomegranates are a unique fruit featuring a leathery red exterior. The fruit splits open to reveal many seed pods that resemble ruby jewels. Each pod contains a burst of sweet and sour tangy pomegranate juice. It has long been a fruit to look for in grocery stores around Thanksgiving time, but the pomegranate’s increase in popularity has led to a rise in imports and availability throughout the year.
Pomegranates are rated as a super fruit because they have a large amount of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds, such as polyphenols and anthocyanins, which are also found in blueberries. The healthfulness of pomegranates makes the fruit in high demand. Pomegranate fruit and juice are consumed raw and used in cooking, baking, and beverages, and as a garnish.
Pomegranate and Florida Alternative Crops
Research into the feasibility of pomegranates as a leader in Florida alternative crops started in 2008 at the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center (UF/ CREC), according to a Citrus Industry article. Citrus greening had begun its decimation of the Florida citrus industry, and growers were looking for Florida alternative crops.
Pomegranates have been grown as “dooryard plants,” an edible landscape plant, in Florida for years and some plants were over 100 years old, according to the Citrus Industry article. Researchers collected pomegranate varieties from all over Florida and the Southeast, and two “mother plantings” were made in Florida. That research showed that the biggest hurdle to the propagation of pomegranates in Florida would likely be controlling disease.
A GrowingProduce.com article maintains that the need for low-chill pomegranates is another concern for the industry. Pomegranates do best in drier areas with cool winters, such as the Middle East and the Mediterranean, two areas that have traditionally grown pomegranates. In anticipation of the new specialty crop, the Florida Pomegranate Association was chartered in 2012, and they are holding a Pom-Wise Field Day on July 20th, 2017, to share the latest updates on growing pomegranates in Florida.
AgAmerica Lending supports both traditional crops and alternative agriculture. If you’d like to discuss how we can help make your agribusiness dreams a reality, contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members today.