Prized Pomegranates Undergo Scrutiny of
Nursery Staff, Growers By
July 22, 2004
Imagine sweet, juicy pomegranates that are pink or yellow on the
outside instead of the familiar red. These fruits are so unusual that you
probably haven't seen them in the local supermarket's produce section.
But that could change, depending on what orchardists, treefruit
breeders and plant nursery staffers learn from growing samples of unique
pomegranates that they've obtained from America's official pomegranate
collection. Headquartered at Davis, Calif., this treasure trove of the
delicious, fun-to-eat fruit is part of the
National Clonal Germplasm
Repository for Fruit and Nut Crops. The repository and other collections
make up a nationwide network that's managed by the
Agricultural Research Service--the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
scientific research agency.
Specialists working with cuttings from pomegranate trees in the
collection will share what they've learned about the best strategies for
helping these distinctive trees thrive at fruit farms in the United States.
Pomegranate cuttings, if they adapt well, will take root and form sturdy,
shrublike trees that will bear flavorful fruit in about three years. That's
according to research geneticist and interim curator Mallikarjuna K. Aradhya.
The ARS pomegranate collection, with more than 150 different
kinds of pomegranates from around the globe, is likely the most diverse,
publicly owned assortment of pomegranates in the United States. This ARS
repository safeguards samples of the world's pomegranates to ensure that the
genetic richness or diversity of this fruit won't be lost, even if groves of
wild pomegranates on other continents are inadvertently destroyed, or if new
commercial varieties displace older heirloom ones.
In the repository's sunny orchards, pomegranates range from
light pink to deep orange, burgundy red or golden yellow on the outside.
Pomegranates are low in calories and sodium; provide vitamin C, potassium, and
fiber; and are rich an antioxidants.