Regarding the best methods of picking and handling the fruit, Hodgson says:
"On account of the common habit of splitting, the fruit of most varieties must be picked before fully mature. . . . Some trees will hold their fruit until winter and never show any splits.
"Fortunately, the pomegranate is one of those fruits which, after reaching a certain degree of maturity, continues to ripen in cold storage, where it will keep in excellent condition for five or six months. Not only does it ripen, but the quality is improved, the flavor becoming richer and more vinous. The rind shrinks and becomes thinner and tougher; the amount of rag decreases; and the seed coats appear to become more tender and edible. Several pickings should be made, the first about the first week in October, and two or three others at weekly intervals.
"Pomegranates are very securely attached to the fruiting wood by thick, strong stems, and should be clipped rather than pulled. . . . After sizing, the fruit is wrapped in tissue paper and packed. The commercial package used is the orange half-box. . . . The sizes run from 24 to 110 per box."
On this same subject Roeding 1 notes: "On account of its rather thick skin the fruit will withstand quite a lot of abuse. The one point to guard against is to pick the fruits before they are rained on, for "when this occurs many of them will split, making them unfit for shipment. After they are gathered, the fruits, if stored in a cool, dry place, will keep for months; the skin loses its striking lustre, and the fruit shrinks some, but this in no way impairs the quality or flavor of the pulp."
1 Roeding's Fruit Growers' Guide.
The pomegranate has several enemies, both insect and fungous. In India, the larvae of the anar butterfly (Virachola isocrates Fabr.) infest the fruit. A similar insect is the pomegranate butterfly of Egypt (Virachola lima Klug). Another lepidopterous pest, Cryptoblades gnidiella Miller, is also reported from Egypt. In California much damage has been caused by a disease known as heart-rot. "When an infected fruit is opened, the central cavity is found filled with a disgusting mass of decayed arils, black in color and disagreeable in odor. The decay usually shows no connection with the rind, being entirely surrounded by sound flesh. . . . Infection takes place in the blossom and progress of the fungus may be traced by a thread-like black line of decay from the stigma down through the stylar canal into the interior of the fruit." No remedy has been found for this disease up to the present time.
Several insects occasionally attack the tree in California, but none is said to be a serious pest. In Hawaii, the dreaded Mediterranean fruit-fly (Ceratitis capitata Wied.) is known to infest the fruit.
The varieties of the pomegranate are fairly numerous. Ibn-al-Awam, a Moor who wrote in the thirteenth century, described about ten kinds known in southern Spain at that time. At Baghdad, pomegranates are usually divided into three groups or classes, viz.: ahmar (red), aswad (black), and halwa (sweet). Several named varieties are known in Mesopotamia in a limited way, Salimi being considered the best. Ragawi, Halu, Aswad, and Amlasi are other forms.
The late Frank N. Meyer, describing the pomegranates of the Shantung Province of China, says : "There are dwarf varieties that grow only a few feet tall and bear but a few small scarlet fruits, while others grow from 15 to 30 feet tall and bear fruits one or more pounds in weight. There are varieties that have a white rind and are red inside and other kinds that are white both outside and inside."
Numerous varieties have been introduced into the United States from the Orient. Some of them are promising, but none is yet established in the trade. The following are the three principal varieties planted in those parts of the country where pomegranate culture is conducted commercially:
Wonderful. - Form oblate; size very large, the diameter sometimes 5 inches; base flattened; apex rounded, crowned with the prominent calyx; surface smooth, glossy, deep purple-red in color; rind medium thick, tough; flesh deep crimson in color, juicy, and of delicious vinous flavor; seeds not very hard.
Origin not definitely known; it was propagated at Porterville, California, in 1896, from a cutting obtained from Florida. Because of its vigor of growth, productiveness, and the excellent quality of its fruit, it has become the favorite commercial variety in California.
Paper-Shell. - Form globose; size large; surface glossy, pale yellow washed with pink; rind very thin; flesh bright red in color, juicy, and of pleasant flavor; seeds fairly tender.
Origin not definitely known; it was introduced into California from the southeastern United States. It is not so vigorous in growth as Wonderful, nor is the fruit so attractive, but it is productive and the fruit has good shipping qualities.
Spanish Ruby. - Form globose; size large ; surface glossy, bright red in color; rind moderately thick; flesh crimson in color, juicy, of sweet aromatic flavor; seeds fairly tender.
Syns. Purple, Purple Seeded. A variety introduced into California from the southeastern United States. Commercially it is not important.