High Density Pomegranate Cultivation in India
Pomegranate is one of the commercially important fruit crops grown in India. Pomegranate belongs to the Punicaceae family. Pomegranate is found in both tropical and sub-tropical regions and is a popular table fruit of the world. Pomegranate fruit is one of the most favorite table fruits. Fresh fruits are used for many table purposes. Also, they can prepare processed products like juice, syrup, squash, jelly, anar rub, juice concentrates, carbonated cold-drinks, and anar dana tablets, acids, etc. In this article we also covered the below topics about Pomegranate cultivation;
- Is Pomegranate farming profitable
- Which is the best variety of Pomegranate
- What is high density planting
- Best place to plant a Pomegranate tree
- How do you increase the size of Pomegranate fruit
A Step by Step Guide to High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
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Pomegranate is one of India’s commercial fruit plants and it is native to Iran. It is known as a crop tolerant of drought, but periodic irrigation is mandatory for the manufacturing of commercial yield. Water concentrations and optimum irrigation systems rely on a multitude of variables such as soil type, physiological stage, tree size, and potential evaporation. The tree requires little additional irrigation. Commercial production of fruits starts within 3 years in Pomegranate plantation and lasts up to 30 years. Pomegranate cultivation is the best business for the farmers to earn more and more profit. It is one of the important commercial fruit.
Soil and Climate Requirement for High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
Pomegranate is grown in a wide range of soils; it is drought-resistant and tolerant to salinity and alkalinity. Cool winter and dry summer are necessary for the production of high quality Pomegranate fruits. It performs well up to 1800 m elevation. Considering the soil requirement, Pomegranate can be grown under different soil types, from low-fertile to high-fertile soil. Though, in deep loamy, it gives an excellent yield.
Soil having a pH level between 6.5 – 7.5 is ideal for Pomegranate farming. Pomegranate plants can tolerate frost to some extent and can be considered drought-tolerant. The optimum temperature level for fruit development is 35-38°C.
Pomegranate crop grows well under semi-arid conditions. The Pomegranate tree requires a hot and dry climate during fruit development and ripening. It is deciduous in areas of low winter temperature and evergreen or partially deciduous in tropical and sub-tropical conditions. It can tolerate frost to a considerable extent in the dormant stage but is injured at a temperature level below -11°C. Well-drained, sandy loan to deep loamy or alluvial soils is suitable for Pomegranate cultivation.
Pomegranate Varieties Cultivated in India
Important Pomegranate varieties cultivated in India are Alandi, Dholka, Kandhari, Kabul, Muskati Red, Paper Shelled, Spanish Ruby, Ganesh, Mridula, Aarakta, Jyoti, Ruby, Bhagwa, Jalore Seedless, Kandhari, Phule Arakta, Phule Bhagwa Super, Bhagwa Sindoor, Yercaud 1 and Co 1. These are the commercial Pomegranate varieties that grow in India. Bhagwa variety is the most cultivated variety due to its high demand for domestic and export purposes.
Area and Production of Pomegranate Cultivation in India
The largest Pomegranate growing country in the world is India. The total area under Pomegranate cultivation in India is more than 1.31 lakh hectare, where Maharashtra is the leading Pomegranate cultivated state. Despite this, India exports only 2.55% of its total production and there is a tremendous potential for exports of Pomegranate from India. The area under Pomegranate is growing up rapidly because of its huge fruit demand for domestic as well as an export market.
The Pomegranate crop is cultivated commercially only in Maharashtra. Small scale Pomegranate plantations are also seen in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana. Some important techniques of growing the Pomegranate crop are propagation methods, planting systems, flowering and fruiting aspects of crop regulation, training, and pruning, stress factors and their management, water and nutrient management, and total quality management, etc. Pomegranate fruit is consumed fresh or in the form of juice, jam, squash, and syrup. Among all forms, canned slices and juice are in much demand in India, constituting about 70% of the fruit production.
Pomegranate Cultivation in Karnataka
The Pomegranate crop is an important fruit crop grown in the dry regions of India. Also, it is cultivated to a large extent in the northern dry districts of Karnataka state. The development of varieties such as Ganesh, Mridula (Arakta), Ruby, Bhagwa (Kesar) has revolutionized Pomegranate cultivation in the Karnataka state.
Advantages of High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
- The adoption of high density planting is revolutionizing fruit growing over much of the world and promises to have a significant effect on the horticulture industry.
- High Density Planting (HDP) is an intensive form of fruit production which has high relevance to the food and nutritional security of our ever-increasing population.
- Best utilization of land and resources
- Quality production of fruit crops
- Increase in yield per unit area
- Easy for intercultural, plant protection, and harvesting
- High density planting appears to be the most appropriate answer and need of the hour to overcome low productivity and the long gestation period for early returns and export quality fruits.
- HDP crops are precocious, easily manageable, and fetch higher returns per unit area.
- High density has better amenability to modern, input-saving horticultural techniques such as drip irrigation, and mechanical harvest, etc.
- High density planting system is more amenable to horticultural operations like pruning, plant protection measures, and harvesting which reduces the labor cost involved.
- By planting high density crops it is increased early production. Having orchards that can be established and cropped significantly in the first 2 to 3 years is a very good reason to consider high density systems. Because of the early production and higher returns, many higher density orchards are breaking even in 6 to 7 years compared to 10-12 years for traditional systems.
- Efficient use of labor to harvest and prune from the ground or a short stool is another advantage of using a high density plantation. Another advantage of high density is the potential to have higher quality fruit for a longer period by maintaining light interception in the smaller trees of higher density orchards. Pesticide application efficiency can be much higher in higher density orchards as well.
The Season for Pomegranate Plantation
In case if you miss this: Intercropping In Fruit Crops.
Pomegranate crops are planted during the February-March months (during spring) in sub-tropical regions. In tropical regions, Pomegranate cultivation is done during the months of July-August. The air layering method is done usually during the rainy season and November-December months.
Key Aspects of High Density Planting in Fruits
The HDP can be with one species (mono-species) or with different species means multi-species of crops. The mono-species HDP comprise the planting of small tree densely, restricting their vegetative growth by using dwarfing rootstocks, bioregulators or other horticultural technique such as pruning. In the multi-species HDP planting, the interception of incident solar radiation at different tiers by canopies of various species based on their light transmission characteristics and shade tolerance are exploited.
Five important components of high density planting are;
- Dwarf scion varieties
- Dwarfing rootstocks and inter-stocks
- Training and pruning
- Use of chemicals/plant growth retardants
- Suitable crop management practices.
These components are harnessed in HDP plantation which helps in attaining the goals.
Planting Material and Methods in High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
Pomegranate is propagated vegetative by cuttings, air layering.
There are two methods of planting in Pomegranate cultivation, viz. square method and pit method.
Square Method – This is a commonly followed cultivation method. The inter-plant distance mainly depends on the climate and soil type. In the case of very light soils, a distance of 4 to 5 meters is maintained.
Pit System – Pits of dimensions about 60X60X60 cm are dug a month before the actual cultivation. They are left open for solarization for 2 weeks. Then, to protect from termite invasion, the sides and the bottom of the pits are dusted with 5% carbaryl dust. After 2 weeks the pits are filled with topsoil mixed with FYM (farmyard manure) and superphosphate. The first irrigation is done immediately after planting.
Air layering is done during the rainy season and also in November-December. Usually, planting is done in spring (February-March) and July-August in sub-tropical and tropical regions respectively.
Time and Method of Sowing in High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
Generally, sowing is done from December to January month. For sowing, dug Pits of about 60 x 60 x 60 cm size about a month before planting. Keep pits open under the sun for a fortnight and then filled pits with topsoil mixed with 20kg of farmyard manure and 1 kg of superphosphate. After filling the pit, apply water and it settles down the soil.
Pomegranate is propagated through the air layering method. The air layering method is done in the rainy season as well as in November-December month. For air layering, select 1 to 2-year-old, healthy, mature shoot having a length of about 45-60cm with pencil thickness.
Spacing in High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
High density planting is adopted in temperate regions. A spacing of 5-6 meters in northern India and also in the plains of the Deccan plateau is usually followed. High density Pomegranate planting with spacing gives 2-2.5 times more yield than that obtained when the normal planting distance of 5 X 5 m. is adopted. Farmers have adopted a spacing of about 2.5 X 4.5 m. Closer plant spacing increases disease and pest incidence.
Planting Process in High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
- Generally, Pomegranate plants raised from seed vary widely and are desirable. Thus, they should be raised vegetative. Also, cuttings are universally used for raising Pomegranate plants for commercial purposes.
- The best time of making the cuttings is December-January when plants shed leaves. The cuttings in the nursery fields are planted directly after making them from the Pomegranate plants.
- Also, Pomegranate may be propagated by air-layering or Gootee. Then, treatment with 10000 ppm Butyric acid in lanolin as the carrier was found to improve rooting.
- Pomegranate can be planted in any season with assured irrigation and June-July is the best season for fresh planting.
- Farmers targeting high yield are adapting high density planting with 6×8 feet or even 6×6 feet spacing. But the canopies of the Pomegranate plants overlap within 2 years and become difficult to manage.
- High density plantations get infested with bacterial blight and fungal wilt easily. Hence the best-recommended spacing is about 15 feet from row to row and 10 feet from plant to plant or 12×12 feet. This spacing accommodates about 300 plants per acre.
Irrigation Requirement in High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
Weekly irrigation in the summer season and that during winters at fortnightly intervals is recommended. Irrigation could be suppressed or reduced during the Pomegranate flowering-fruit set (FFS) phenological period. While Pomegranate trees are considered drought-tolerant, irrigation is required during the dry summer to optimize growth, yield, and fruit quality for commercial production Regular water supply through drip irrigation is essential for sustainable production of Pomegranate. Mature Pomegranate trees can tolerate considerable drought, but for good fruit production, they should be irrigated.
The average annual water requirement through drip irrigation is about 20 cm. Also, it helps to increase the yield by 30-35%. An online drip system is recommended for low density plantation, however, either an inline or online drip system is recommended for high density Pomegranate plantation.
Fertilizers Requirement for High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
The recommended fertilizer dose is about 600-700 g. N, 200-250 g. P2O5 and 200-250 g. K2O /tree/years. Application of 10 kg FYM (Farmyard manure) and 75 g. ammonium sulphate to a 5-year-old tree annually is sufficient, whereas application of 50 kg Farmyard manure and 3.5 kg Oil cake or 1 kg sulphate of ammonia before flowering is ideal for healthy fruiting. The time of fertilizer application is December/January, May/June, and October/November. Fruiting must be encouraged from the fourth year onwards. Nitrogenous fertilizer is applied in two split doses starting at the time of first irrigation and next at 3 weeks interval, whereas a full dose of P and K should be applied at one time. These should be applied in a shallow circular trench below the tree canopy not beyond a depth of about 8-10 cm.
Pruning to be Carried in High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
In Pomegranate, annual pruning on all sides is done after harvest is completed to promote new shoots during December by shortening of past season shoot by removing one-third of the shoot. The dried, diseased, and cross-cross branches and root suckers are removed carefully. Pruning in Pomegranate, especially in the high density, is required to keep the canopy size maintained so that overlap and mutual shading will not occur.
- Pruning is essential for tissue culture plants as their growth is more vigorous and in a short time, several branches and sub-branches develop to fill the canopy. Though, pruning induces the formation of more fresh shoots, a requirement for increasing the flower density.
- Also, pruning reduces the length of shoot branches and compresses the canopy giving more strength to the branches. Strong branches do not require external support (props) to hold them. The first pruning is done 2 to 3 months after field establishment.
- Pruning should be done in tissue culture Pomegranate in such a way that at each pruned tip two fresh branches in the form of “Y” should initiate.
- Each branch should undergo pruning once it reaches 12- 15 inches growth; that means after 2-3 months growth. Pruning must be done when the stem thickness reaches the size of a refill of a pen.
- About 25-50% of inward branches also removed to allow sunlight penetration into the canopy. All branches directed towards the ground must be removed.
Weed Control in High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
Usually, high density cultivation is followed for Pomegranate plantation. Therefore, weeding should be done manually. It is done twice a year- once in May and second in December during the time of plant fertilization. Some farmers spray about 0.6% of Gramoxone during the monsoon period. Though, spraying must be done by keeping the nozzle close to the weeds to avoid chemical drifting.
Pests and Diseases Control in High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
Pomegranate butterfly (or) Fruit borer
It is a major pest that bore into the developing fruits, feeds inside, and also makes fruit susceptible to fungal and bacterial infection.
Control – It can be controlled by bagging young fruits at the early stage with polyethene bags, spray phosphamidon 0.03 %, or sevin by 4 grams.
It makes holes in the main trunk and also forms networks of tunnels inside it. Feeding on bark during nights and then fill it with excreta.
Control – It can be managed by plugging the hole with cotton dipped in petrol or kerosene, chloroform, carbon bisulphide, followed by covering it with mud. Nowadays, the bagging of fruits is practiced by farmers. This helps up to a certain extent and improves fruit quality.
Mealybug is another major pest on Pomegranate plants. Mealybug pest takes shelter if the fruits grow in bunches.
Control- Remove affected plant leaves, shoots, and fruits and destroy them by burning. Spray about 2 grams of Verticillium lecanii fungi in 1 liter of water.
Young and adult aphids suck sap from tender shoots, flowers, and leaves. It results in the curling of plant leaves and shoots.
Control – Spray systemic insecticides such as Oxydemeton methyl 2 ml or Dimethoate 1.7 ml in 1 liter of water on fresh sprouts.
Bacterial leaf spot or oily spot
It is characterized by the formation of small-dark brown water-soaked spots on the leaf, stem, and fruits. Then, cracking can be observed with the shining appearance at a severe stage of infection and it is most severe in the rainy season
Control – It can be measured to some extent by spraying streptocycline at the rate of about 0.5 g/ liter and mixing with copper oxychloride at the rate of 2 g/ liter on three consecutive days.
Fruit cracking or fruit splitting
It is one of the most severe disorders due to irregular irrigation, boron deficiency; fruits are cracked, and which is a common problem in Pomegranate crops.
Control – Spraying of boron at the rate of about 0.1% and GA3 at the rate 250 ppm disease can be minimized to some extent. Besides, maintaining proper soil moisture level and selecting a cracking tolerant variety are some preventive measures.
When and How to Harvest Pomegranate Fruits
Generally, Pomegranate harvesting is starting after 150 to 180 days from flowering to fruit maturity. But it mainly depends on genotype, climatic condition, and growing region.
The fruit does not continue to ripen after harvest and must be picked when fully ripe for best eating quality. The Pomegranate fruit is ready for harvest if it makes a metallic sound when tapped. Certain environmental conditions can cause the fruit to crack open, including rain, wind, and insufficient irrigation. The stem is removed at harvest to prevent damage to other fruits during the shipping and handling process. Normally, harvest Pomegranate fruit with clippers when skins are fully colored bright red to yellowish-brown. Harvest comes mid-summer through fall and fruit will split if left on the tree after it ripens.
The yield in High Density Pomegranate Cultivation
The yield of the traditional plantation is only 17 tonnes/ha/year, while the high-density Pomegranate plantation yields about 25 tonnes/ha/year.