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Innovative Treatment of Pomegranates from Harvest to Market

Nerya, O., Levin, A.
Acta horticulturae 2015 no.1089 pp. 489-493
cold storage, color, cooling, cultivars, exports, flowering, fruit quality, harvest date, markets, plant protection, pomegranates, postharvest treatment, relative humidity, ripening, sales, shelf life, storage time, sugar content, temperature, trees, weight loss, Israel
The greatest global marketing challenge is to supply the markets with high quality edible pomegranates throughout the year. Extension of shelf-life requires advanced R&D systems, and modern cold storage facilities. Israel produces more than 60,000 t of pomegranates annually, the majority for export. The fruit requires careful cultivation techniques, including tree forming and plant protection from the early stages of flowering and fruit formation, through postharvest treatments, cold storage, packing and export. Extension of the marketing season required development of storage methods for the late ripening cultivar ‘Wonderful’. Indicators were developed to determine optimal timing of harvesting: necessary conditions for extending storage periods included a deep red color, both inside (the arils) and out (the peel), sugar content exceeding 16% and a total lack of blemishes or defects. Appropriate storage methods differ according to the grower’s marketing goals. The following systems can be noted: (a) traditional storage, without cooling, allows domestic marketing only, over a one- to two-week shelf life; (b) storage over 1-2 months in a regular atmosphere (RA) at temperatures between 0-5°C, produces quality fruit throughout the period. More sophisticated storage techniques that allow extension of shelf life include: (a) modified atmosphere (MA) at 5-7°C allowing storage over 2-3 months while maintaining high quality; (b) controlled atmosphere (CA) at 5-7°C and suitable relative humidity offers the greatest marketing flexibility, including sales even beyond 3-5 months while maintaining high fruit quality and exportability. Special techniques developed in Israel prevent fruit weight loss, protect against storage diseases and allow shipment of desired cultivars to top European markets. The exporters are not limited by the harvest season and have a marketing potential of close to six months. These capabilities require modern cold storage facilities. Investment in such systems under Israeli conditions ranges between € 1,500-2,000 per ton of storage capacity.