Pomegranate is a nonclimacteric fruit consumed fresh as whole fruit or arils. It can also be used for the production of juice, wine, and syrup. Pomegranate fruit has a hard or leathery pericarp (rind) that may be red, purple, pink, or yellow (Stover and Mercure, 2007). The fruit has numerous seeds, and each seed is covered by fleshy pulp; this fleshy seed is known as an aril. Botanically, the fruit is a berry, and its seeds are produced from the ovary of a single flower. Inside the fruit, arils are attached to a white spongy mesocarp (Holland et al., 2009; Preece and Moersfelder, 2016; Stover and Mercure, 2007). Pomegranate is popular due to its health benefits, such as its anticancer and antidiabetic properties (Borochov-Neori et al., 2011; Katz et al., 2007; Matityahu et al., 2014). In the United States, pomegranate is grown primarily in California, with ‘Wonderful’ being the most widely grown cultivar (Holland et al., 2009). Pomegranate may be a suitable new crop for the fresh market or for processing in various southeastern states, such as Georgia and Florida. Currently, Georgia is a major producer of blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) (2016 Farm gate value report), and blueberry growers have an interest in pomegranate juice as well as blueberry juice (personal communication with growers). In 2017 and 2018, freeze events reduced blueberry production in Georgia, further increasing the growers’ interest in alternative crops such as pomegranate.
Preliminary research has shown that ‘Wonderful’ produces low yields in Georgia, thereby indicating the need to identify pomegranate cultivars better suited for warm and humid conditions such as those of the southeastern United States. However, there is limited information regarding pomegranate cultivars and production in the southeast United States. The objective of this study was to determine the physical and chemical quality attributes of pomegranate cultivars grown in Georgia.
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