Area under horticulture is increasing rapidly
in recent years. Certainty of yield and income, lesser labour requirement, government support,
export potential etc. are the main reasons for this expansion. Perennial plantation crops
like mango, banana, grape and pomegranate are the favorite crops of our farmers. Availability
of irrigation water and power influence the choice of crops a lot in these days. Hence
pomegranate, which needs very less water, is the main attraction for our farmers. Commercial
cultivation of pomegranate has spread from Maharashtra to Karnataka, Gujarat, Andhra
Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and to many other states in last 2-3 decades. Even the employed people
of the cities entered pomegranate cultivation looking to its high returns. Even though pomegranate
is proved to be a high value crop there are some problems and challenges too. This extensive
documentary film by your Shramajeevi explains everything on pomegranate cultivation.
Pomegranate originates from Iran or Persia region. This crop has a history of some 5000
years there. The taxonomical name of pomegranate is Punica granatum. It is regarded as �Fruit
of Paradise� due to its attractive arils, refreshing juice and fruit skin rich in medicinal
properties. It adapts very well to very low fertility soils and comes up well in dry lands.
Pomegranate stands at 18th place in world fruit consumption. In India too pomegranate
is not such a favorite fruit like banana, mango etc. Even then the cultivation and trade
of this fruit is on a large scale. Pomegranate is a popular fruit in European countries.
It is mostly consumed as fresh arils. On a small scale it is used for juice, syrup, jelly,
processed arils, wine etc. Pomegranate fruit skin and roots are extensively used in Ayurvedic
and Ethno medicines. Pomegranate export earns a handsome foreign
exchange for our country. India stands 1st and Iran in 2nd position in pomegranate production.
It is vice versa in export trade. China, Afghanistan, Turkey, Spain, Israel and USA are the other
major producers of pomegranate. In India it is cultivated in 1,13,000 hector area with
around 7,50,000 metric tons of production. This is almost 50% of the world�s production.
In India Maharashtra stands 1st and Karnataka in 2nd position in pomegranate cultivation.
Other major states producing pomegranate are Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra
Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Almost 50% of India�s production comes from Maharashtra alone. Belagavi,
Vijayapura, Bagalakote, Koppala, Ballary and Chitradurga are the major districts of Karnataka
producing pomegranate. This crop has spread to Tumakur, Kolar and Bengaluru rural districts
in recent years. Basically, pomegranate is a crop of arid zone.
It is very successful in dry lands of tropics and subtropics. However we have some examples
of commercial cultivation of pomegranate even in cool hilly places like Kulu � Manali.
Well drained deep sandy soil with medium fertility is good for pomegranate. Deep clay soil with
poor drainage is not advisable. Pomegranate cultivation is possible even in shallow rocky
soil with poor fertility. pH range of 6 to 8 is good. However pomegranate tolerates acidic
and saline soils. Altitude more than 1800 meters from sea level is not suitable. Pomegranate
is comfortable with a rainfall of 500 to 750 mm. commercial cultivation is not possible
in heavy rainfall areas with high relative humidity. Here pest and disease infestation
will be more reducing yield and fruit quality. Marshy land is not suitable for pomegranate.
Root rot fungi, wilt and nematodes kill the plant in water logged soils. Dry weather is
most important at the time of fruit ripening. Pomegranate is a sun loving plant. However
there are success stories in old coconut gardens with pomegranate as an intercrop.
Excellent commercial varieties of pomegranate are released in India after selection and
hybridization of various varieties from across the globe. Colour of the fruit and the arils,
size of the fruit, yield, shelf life, sweetness of the juice, softness of the seeds etc. are
the criteria for variety selection. However we do not have any commercial variety resistant
against bacterial blight and fungal wilt diseases. Ganesh, Jyoti, Bhagwa or Kesar, Ruby, Arakta
and Mrudula are the popular varieties of pomegranate available in India. All these varieties are
technically soft seeded and seedless in common language. We find only Bhagwa variety in most
of the plantations across India. It is called Kesar in some regions. Shiny saffron-red colored
skin and deep red colored arils are very attractive. Sweetness or TSS and the shelf life is excellent.
Medium sized fruits of Bhagwa variety ripens bit late at 170 day stage. Yield is also good.
This variety fruit has become very popular in the European markets. Edges on the raw
fruit disappears and the fruit becomes round at ripening. Thick skin, weight, size and
the shelf life makes it suitable for exports. Hence most of the farmers of India grow only
Bhagwa variety. Pomegranate plant can be propagated by stem
cuttings, air layering and by tissue culture methods. Stem cutting method is not very successful
in India and hence it is not in use. Tissue culture plants have become popular in recent
years. One can produce disease free plants on a large scale in this method. Each TC plant
costs around INR 45 now. However these plants do not have any resistance against major bacterial
and fungal diseases. It may get infested in the field after planting. The most common
method of multiplication of pomegranate plant is air layering. Roots are induced on the
stem on the mother plant itself. Select the plant of required variety with satisfactory
yield for last 2-3 years. The plant and the whole garden should be free from bacterial
blight and fungal wilt diseases. Select a twig of pencil thickness for air layering.
Cut off side growths and spines on the stem. Put two cuts on the bark of the stem
at 1-inch distance. Remove the ring of the bark and scrape the green cell layer on the
white stem. Applying rooting hormone IBA at 1000 ppm concentration induces more roots.
Some farmers put commercial hormone solution to the rooting media itself. Sphagnum moss,
coconut coir pith or saw dust can be used as rooting medium. Soak the media and squeeze
it to drain excess water. Stem may rot instead of producing roots with excess water. Put
handful of the soaked medium in a transparent smooth plastic sheet. Put it around the cut
portion of the stem like this and tie with a gunny thread. Tying tightly will retain
moisture in the layer till it roots well. Farmers producing layers on a large number
put layers at 6 inch distance all along the length of the twig. This plant can accommodate
around 200 to 300 layers. Rainy season between July and October is the
best time for layering. It produces sufficient roots in 25 to 30 days. The roots are visible
through the plastic. The success rate is around 80%. Separate the layer from the mother plant
at 45 days when the roots mature and turn to brown colour. Cut off the leaves and tender
growth on the stem of the layer plant. Remove the plastic sheet and plant the layer in a
poly bag filled with potting mixture of soil, sand and manure. Keep the plant in a poly
house or under shade. Water the plant regularly and give more attention till it sprouts well.
It gets ready for planting in the main field in 3 months. Major diseases of pomegranate
spread easily to new areas through these layer plants. Hence strictly avoid layering in disease
infested gardens. Pomegranate can be planted in any season with
assured irrigation. But June-July is the best season for fresh planting. Farmers targeting
very high yield are adapting high density planting with 6×8 feet or even 6×6 feet spacing.
But the canopies of the plants overlap within 2 years and become difficult to manage. High
density plantations get infested with bacterial blight and fungal wilt very easily. Hence
the best recommended spacing is 15 feet from row to row and 10 feet from plant to plant
or 12×12 feet. These spacing accommodates around 300 plants per acre. Let the rows be
in North-South direction in length to avoid shading each other. Dig 2 cubic feet pit and
expose it to sun for one month. Dust the pit with 100 grams of bleaching powder. Then fill
the pit with sand, fertile clay soil and top soil one part each. Add 10 kilograms of cow
dung manure, 1 kilogram of vermi-compost, 1 kilogram of neem cake and 500 grams of super
phosphate to each pit. Adding 25 grams each of PSB, Trichoderma and other bio-control
microorganisms is also recommended. Then take up shallow planting. Press the soil around
the plant gently. Water the plant regularly and take enough care till it puts out new
growth. Stalking may also be given. Trench system of planting is practiced recently by
many farmers to save labour cost on digging pits. First the land is ploughed thoroughly
and deeply. Then shallow trenches are made by tractor driven implement at required spacing.
These trenches are 12 feet apart. Planting is done in these trenches at 12 feet distance
after installing drip irrigation system. Most of the farmers put manures after one month
instead of at the time of planting. It is better to provide sufficient quantity
of cow dung manure, vermi-compost, neem cake and other organic inputs. It ensures good
growth and enhances disease resistance of the plant. Put recommended quantity of balanced
chemical fertilizers as well. For a first year plant put 10 kilograms of farm yard manure,
100 grams of Nitrogen, 150 grams of phosphorus and 50 grams of potash. For a second year
plant 20 kilograms of farm yard manure, 200 grams of nitrogen, 100 grams each of phosphorus
and potash are recommended. Later on follow recommended schedule as the plants are put
for flowering. Take up foliar spray if the deficiency symptoms of micro-nutrients are
seen. Spraying cow urine, vermi-wash and Panchagavya produce good results.
Pomegranate plant is basically bushy in nature. Many shoots emerge from ground level. Retain
3 to 4 shoots and cut off the remaining ones. Pinch the tip of the shoots at 2 feet height
to induce branching. Encourage 5 to 6 lateral branches on each shoot at 1.5 feet height
to get well spread canopy. Many farmers put the plants for flowering at the age of 10
month itself to get early crop. This is not a good practice. Take up pruning after 18
months. The best practice is pruning at 24th month. This is very important for the good
health of plant and the garden in the long run. Keep on removing sprouts from ground
level and flowers on these small plants. Otherwise it disturbs the vegetative growth. Intercrops
are possible between the plant rows for 2 years. But it is not practiced in commercial
pomegranate gardens. Farmers concentrate on nourishing pomegranate plants to get good
growth and early crop. Pomegranate flowers only once in the spring
in cool climate of north India. But in the tropical climate of central and south India
it gives out more flowers in 3 seasons a year. Flowering in June-July is called as �Mrig
Bahar�, September-October is �Hasta Bahar� and flowering in January-February is �Ambe
Bahar�. Complete rest for the pomegranate plants is possible in April-May months and
hence it flowers profusely in June. This Mrig Bahar is the rainy season and hence the crop
needs less water. But the insect and disease infestation is more. It brings down the quality
of the produce. This is not a good season for cropping in areas with high rainfall and
with bacterial blight disease. Hasta Bahar comes just after the rainy season and hence
it is difficult to give proper rest for the plants. It results in poor flowering. But
the fruits grow under full sunshine and hence the yield and the quality of the fruit will
be excellent. Pest and disease problem will also be less. These fruits are best suited
for exports. Ambe Bahar is in hot summer. Hence we get heavy flowering and more yield.
Pest and disease will be less. But the fruits ripen at the end of summer season. The crop
may suffer with water shortage resulting in poor quality. If the pruning is delayed crop
may be affected with early monsoon showers and hailstorms. But the demand and price for
pomegranate fruits will be better in Indian and export markets in this season. Decide
the cropping season depending on prevailing pest and disease situation in your region,
availability of irrigation water and market demand for the fruits. See, this garden received
unseasonal rain this year increasing soil moisture. Hence the plants did not get proper
rest even in December-January months resulting in poor flowering. Hence the farmer has lost
a major portion the yield. This indicates that the rest for the plants before pruning
is most important. Pruning is necessary once in a year for pomegranate
plants to get flowering at a time. It helps to reduce pest and disease incidence as well.
Disease spreads very easily if the branches of adjacent plants overlap each other. Limited
number of main and sub branches allow light penetration in to the plant canopy and improves
the health of the plant. Management will be easy. Pomegranate has both terminal and axillary
flowering. Fruit developing at the tip of the shoot will be small in size and gets scorched
by direct sun. This loses market value. The fruits developing inside the plant canopy
get shade and hence the quality will be excellent. Pomegranate plant needs a complete rest period
of 45 days before pruning and flowering. It is a deciduous plant shedding leaves naturally
in cold winter season in the temperate regions. But in the tropics pomegranate is an evergreen
plant. We have to force the plant to shed leaves to enter rest period. In the rainy
season spray Ethereal at 1000 ppm or 2.5 ml per liter of water concentration 15 to 20
days before pruning. The leaves turn yellow and drop down. In black soils put 5 ml ethereal
in 1 liter of water. Otherwise the leaves may not drop. Stop watering during the rest
period. See, these plants are in rest and are ready for pruning. Spray 1% Bordeaux mixture
at this stage to bring down pathogen population on the plant. Pruning is an important work
to be attended by experienced workers. Remove disease affected, dried, weak and closely
grown shoots on the plant. These are the water shoots which grow straight without flowering.
Cut them off at the bottom itself. Matured thicker stems bear bigger fruits of better
quality. Prune them retaining 1 foot length so that it flowers in the leaf axils. Approximately
25 to 50% of the canopy is removed in this pruning process. Cut off all shoots bending
towards the ground. This thinning of the canopy improves the health of the plant and helps
to regulate the crop. Pruning is done in such a way that all shoots and stems in the inner
whorl of the plant get sufficient sunlight and ventilation. Spray ethereal 1000 ppm concentration
after pruning. It sheds remaining leaves reducing pathogen load on the plant.
It also facilitates new sprouts and flowers. Collect all the twigs and leaves on the ground.
Heap it outside the garden and destroy by burning. This is most important to check bacterial
blight disease. Put manures and fertilizers after pruning
and irrigate regularly. Pomegranate plants produce fresh growth and flowers in one month.
If vegetative growth is more and flowers are less spray 1000 ppm Lihocin or 500 ppm Maleic
hydrazide. It suppresses vegetative growth and encourages flowering. Flowers are seen
on large number on the whole plant. But male and intermediate flowers drop down and only
bisexual flowers produce fruit. Too many fruits on the plant result in poor quality. Very
heavy crop exhausts the plant leading to pests and diseases. Hence crop regulation is practiced
to have optimum and good quality crop. Retain 50 to 70 fruits on a healthy plant of 2 to
3 years age. Remove all excess fruits and flowers. Keep 100 to 120 fruits on a big plant
of 3 to 4 years age. Increase the crop load as and when the canopy of the plant grows
bigger over the years. If you retain more number of fruits exceeding the nourishment
capacity of the plant the fruits become small. It gets rejected for exports and sells at
very less price in the local market. Hence flower regulation is most important. Sometimes
we may notice dropping of flower and young fruit. Excess soil moisture and nitrogen or
deficiency of those two creates this problem. Otherwise insufficient rest for the plant
or delayed harvest of crop in the last season resulting in the deficiency of phosphorus,
calcium and boron or increase in pest and disease leads to flower and fruit drop. Spray
100 ppm NAA solution to solve this problem. Pinch the growing tip of the shoot bearing
fruits. It induces branching which protects the growing fruits from direct sun. A plant
with good canopy like this produces good quality fruits. Open plant of this type exposes the
fruits to direct sun leading to sun burning. Keep on removing flowers on the plant and
sprouts at the base during cropping period. This minimizes the wastage of nutrients and
water. This is a continuous and inevitable work on a pomegranate farm. Weak shoots bearing
fruits may bow down. Put poles all along the length of the plant row and put GI wire. Tie
the branches upward to the GI wire with a gunny thread. Spray 10 to 20 ppm Gibberellic
acid or 1 ml Cytozyme in 1 liter of water to improve the size of the fruit and thickness
of the skin when 80% of the fruits are at lemon size.
Now let us understand the nutrient requirement for bearing pomegranate plants. Put sufficient
quantity of organic manures. Dig a ring around the plant base at 1.5 feet distance to put
manures and fertilizers. The basal doze per plant after pruning is cow dung manure 30
kilograms, neem cake 1 kilogram, castor cake 500 grams, vermi-compost 2 kilograms,
super phosphate 1 kilogram, DAP 500 grams, magnesium sulphate 200 grams, Borax 20 grams
and Phorate granules 25 grams. After one month or at flowering apply ammonium sulphate 250
grams and 19:19:19 complex fertilizer 750 grams to each plant. Next doze at lemon size
of the fruit is ammonium sulphate 250 grams, DAP 250 grams and potash 250 grams per plant.
The last doze of fertilizer at 3 months after flowering is DAP 500 grams and potash 500
grams per plant. This is the dosage and the schedule if you opt for solid fertilizer application
to the soil. Cover the manures and fertilizers with soil and irrigate regularly.
Supplying fertilizers through irrigation water or fertigation is practiced widely in commercial
pomegranate plantations now. Water soluble fertilizers are mixed in this plastic tank.
The solution is injected in to irrigation pipe with the help of a venturi. Fertigation
improves the efficiency of fertilizer supply and absorption. Hence it reduces total quantity
of the fertilizers used. It also saves the labour on fertilizer application to the soil.
Phase wise application and liquid form of the fertilizer minimizes the wastage and improves
plant growth and yield. Schedule of fertigation is like this- Per Hector/ Per Day=10 to
20th days after pruning � 12:61:0 (mono ammonium phosphate) – 1.5 kilogram. 21st to
30th day � Calcium Nitrate � 2 kilograms. 31st to 40th day � 19:19:19 complex fertilizer
� 500 grams. 41st to 50th day � 0:52:34 (potassium di-hydrogen orthophosphate) – 1
kilogram. Foliar spray at 50th day � Zinc sulphate 2 grams, Borax 1 gram and calcium
nitrate 2 grams in 1 liter of water. Fertigation � 51st to 60th day � 13:0:45 (potassium
nitrate) � 1 kilogram. 61st to 70th day � 0:52:34 � 1kilogram. 71st to 80th day
� 0:0:50 (Sulphate of potash) � 1 kilogram. Foliar spray at 80th day – Zinc sulphate 2
grams, Borax 1 gram and calcium nitrate 2 grams in 1 liter of water. Fertigation � 81st
to 90th day � 13:0:45 � 1 kilogram. 91st to 100th day � 0:52:34 � 1 kilogram. 101st
to 110th day � 0:0:50 � 1 kilogram. 111th to 120th day � 0:52:34 � 1 kilogram. 121st
to 130th day � 0:0:50 � 1 kilogram. 131st to 140th day � 0:52:34 � 1 kilogram. 141st
to 150th day � 0:0:50 � 1 kilogram. Use of chemicals in pomegranate has reached
its peak. This is not good for the health of plant, soil and the consumers. Pomegranate
plants have lost resistance already and became easily susceptible for many pests and diseases.
Many more chemicals are used for plant protection again. European countries impose ban on imports
of vegetables and fruits from India again and again alleging chemical residues. We should
take it seriously. We have to adapt organic methods at least to the extent possible. We
must practice using rich organic manures, Panchagavya, cow urine, vermi-compost etc.
Organic farming makes the export safe and fetches higher price. This farm keeps few
cows for this purpose. Cow urine and shed washing is collected in this pit. This is
lifted by a slurry pump, filtered through this sand filter and injected in to the irrigation
water line. These plants get organic nutrients at least to some extent.
Cow dung and waste fodder is put in these Rexene tanks to produce vermi-compost. This
vermi-compost unit is meant for pomegranate plants. These organic initiatives have helped
this farmer to keep a check on bacterial blight disease. But we have not come across any farm
practicing systematic and complete organic farming for commercial pomegranate garden
anywhere. Pomegranate is a dry land crop. However assured
irrigation is necessary for commercial crop production. Drip irrigation method is most
suitable and is very popular in pomegranate. It is useful to save water, to maintain uniform
soil moisture level, to avoid spread of diseases and for fertigation. Water requirement of
the plant depends on the type of soil, climate, stage of crop, size of the plant canopy etc.
A fruit bearing plant of this size needs 50 liters of water in April-May. In other months
20 to 25 liters is sufficient. Maintain uniform soil moisture at fruit ripening stage especially
in hot summer months. Frequent and drastic variation in soil moisture leads to cracking
of fruits amounting to heavy economic loss. See that all the plants get uniform watering
while installing drip irrigation structures. Digging around the plant and inter-cultivation
between the rows is better for the control of weeds. Minimize the application of herbicide
as it is again a chemical. Weeds not only compete for nutrients, but also harbor many
pests and diseases. Hence timely and effective weed control is most important.
Let us study major insect pests of pomegranate now. This fruit is affected with thrips. Sucking
by the thrips on the flower and tender fruits creates this mark. It remains on the matured
fruit also leading to the rejection of fruit for exports. Leaves and tender shoots curl
like this affecting the growth of the plant and hence the yield. Flowers infested with
thrips may drop. Spray systemic insecticide Dimethoate 2 ml in 1 liter of water before
flowering. If thrips infestation is very severe spray 1 ml monocrotophos or 4 grams of carbaryl
in 1 liter of water once at flowering and once again at fruit setting. Keep the plant
base free from weeds. Mealy bug is also a major pest on pomegranate.
It colonizes and sucks sap from shoots, flowers and fruits. Black sooty mould grows affecting
the look of the fruit. Severely infested fruit may drop down before maturity. Mealy bug takes
shelter if the fruits grow in bunches like this. So retain one fruit at a point. Severe
infestation of mealy bug on the shoot results in yellowing and drying of the twig. Remove
affected leaves, shoots and fruits and destroy by burning. Loosen the soil surface once in
a while around the plant base. Spray 2 grams of Verticillium lecanii fungi in 1 liter of
water. If the infestation is severe spray 2 ml Dichlorvos or 1 gram Acephate with 5
grams of fish oil soap in 1 liter of water. Do not use Pyrethroid insecticide to pomegranate
which increases mealy bug. Aphids: Young and adult aphids suck sap from
tender shoots, leaves and flowers. It results in curling of leaves and shoots. Black sooty
mould grows on the sweet material secreted by the aphid. Spray systemic insecticides
like Oxydemeton methyl 2 ml or Dimethoate 1.7 ml in 1 liter of water on fresh sprouts.
Releasing Lady Bird beetle, a predator is also effective. Likewise mites and white flies
do infest pomegranate plant. This is mite damage. This scar affects the look of the
fruit leading to rejection for exports. Spray 2.5 ml Dicofol or 2 ml water dispersible sulphur
in 1 liter of water at flowering and tender fruit stage for the control of mites. White
flies suck sap from leaves leading to yellowing, curling and wilting of the leaves. Keeping
yellow sticky trap is effective. If the infestation is severe spray 3% neem oil or 5% neem seed
extract. 1.5 ml Triazophos in 1 liter of water may also be sprayed.
Fruit borer is another major pest of pomegranate. The adult female lays eggs on 30 to 40 day
old fruits. The larva bores through the skin and feeds on the pulp and seeds. Fruit gets
destroyed inside and the excreta of the larva comes out of the entry hole with foul smell.
Damaged fruit may drop down. Fruit borer infestation is more between August and October months.
Collect damaged fruits and destroy by burning. Keep the garden free from weeds. Releasing
Trichogramma parasitoide at the rate of 1 lakh per acre 4 times at 10 days interval
is very effective. Spraying BT bacteria once a week is also useful for the control of fruit
borer. If the problem is severe spray 4 grams of Carbaryl or 0.5 ml Dichlorvos in 1 liter
of water once in 15 days from fruit set to fruit ripening.
Another major insect pest of pomegranate is fruit sucking moth. Female insect lays eggs
on the weeds. Larvae grow by feeding weeds. Adult moth has elongated pipe like mouth with
which it pears the fruit and sucks the juice. Gradually the pierced portion of the fruit
decays. This moth is active during night hours. Keep the garden free from weeds. Light trap
can be used to attract and kill the moth. Put fire to an old tyre and walk across the
garden. This smoke repels the moth. Destroy the damaged fruit by burning. Spraying contact
insecticide in the evening hours is effective for the control of fruit sucking moth.
Shot hole borer is another major pest of pomegranate plant. Adult female lays eggs on loose bark
of the main stem. These small beetles bore the trunk and the roots horizontally. Thus
it obstructs the movement of water and food resulting in yellowing of the branches. This
insect spreads to adjacent plants in the garden creating patches of affected plants. Infested
plant produces large number of small fruits and dies. Small horizontal holes are seen
on the lower portion of the main trunk. Beetles migrate from dead plant to nearest healthy
plant. This shot hole borer can spread to the entire garden if neglected.
Fungus causing wilt may enter the plant through these holes. Normally shot hole borer attacks
bigger plants of 5 years and above age. Uproot the dead plant and destroy by burning. Prepare
a solution of 4 ml Chlorpyriphos or 6 grams of Carbaryl in 1 liter of water. Loosen the
soil around the affected plant and drench 5 to 8 liters of the solution twice a year.
Drench the same solution to the pits after uprooting dead plant. Take out loose bark
of healthy plants. Put 10 grams of COC, 6 grams of Carbaryl and 1 ml of neem oil in
1 liter of water. Add red clay soil to make the solution thick. Paint this to the main
stem to avoid shot hole borer. Likewise stem borer is also seen boring thicker branches
of the pomegranate plant. Affected branches show yellowing and may dry eventually. We
find wood powder coming out of the entry hole of the insect on the stem. Cut off the affected
stem and destroy by burning. Clean the hole on the stem with a metal wire. Push 2 to 3
ml of Dichlorvos insecticide in to the hole with a needleless syringe and cover with wet
mud. Problem of root knot nematode is seen in many
gardens. Meloidegyne is the common type of nematode found. This microscopic worm lives
in the soil and sucks sap from the roots. The affected roots develop knots and the plant
shows stunted growth. Deficiency symptom of micronutrients is seen on the leaves. This
nematode spreads to new gardens through the soil in the packets of nursery plants. Growing
marigold as an intercrop in severely affected garden helps a lot for the control of nematodes.
Put 1 kilogram of neem cake and 50 grams of Carbofuran granules to each plant every year
to avoid nematodes. Let us study the major diseases of pomegranate
now. Phytophthora fungus causes root rot, neck rot; leaf shedding and fruit rot diseases.
In case of leaf rot water soaked lesions appear on the leaves. Gradually the leaves decay
and drop. Fungus spreads to the twigs as well resulting in drying. Small spot appearing
on the fruit spreads to the whole fruit. Then the fruit rots and drops off. Flower affected
with Phytophthora fungus drops. In case of root rot, a major portion of the root system
rots resulting in yellowing of the plant. This plant will have less leaves and flowers
resulting in poor yield. The fungus attacks foot portion of the stem and the plant dies.
Phytophthora rot is common in the rainy season. Avoid water logging. Drenching and spraying
1% Bordeaux mixture or 0.3% COC or 0.2% Chlorothalonil solution effectively controls rot diseases.
Anthracnose disease of pomegranate is caused by Colletotrichum fungus. Incidence of this
disease is more in humid climate of the rainy season. Water soaked spots appear on leaves,
flowers and fruits. Spot on the skin of the fruit elongates in to a lesion affecting the
look. This fruit gets rejected for exports. The fungal pathogen spreads in the air.
This anthracnose disease is common in most of the pomegranate areas of India. Put 1 gram
Thiophanate methyl in 1 liter of water and spray twice in 15 days interval. Better not
to use Carbendazim and Mancozeb as the residual period is more, which may affect the exports.
Fungal Wilt: Fungal wilt is the 2nd most important deadly disease of pomegranate. This has spread
to most of the pomegranate plantations in India resulting in huge economic loss. In
most of the cases Ceratosystis fimbriata fungus is the causal organism. Branches of the plants
show yellowing and dry one after the other. It may take 6 to 12 months for complete wilting
of the whole plant. The symptom remains the same even in the case of shot hole borer and
fungal rot. But in this fungal wilt we find splitting of the base of the main stem. Cross
section of the stem shows brown or violet blotches. In most of the cases the plant dies
with the complex of all these problems. Fungal wilt spreads to new gardens easily through
infected layer plants and the soil in the packet. The pathogen survives in the soil
and the dead plant parts for long time. The disease spreads to the adjacent plants through
root contact. Flooding water, termites and implements spread the fungus in the garden.
This fungal wilt is severe in black clay soils which hold more moisture.
Dig a trench of 2 feet depth around the affected plant to isolate it from surrounding healthy
plants. Uproot the dead plant and destroy by burning. Put fire to the pit also to kill
the fungus in the soil. Drip irrigation avoids chance of spread of the disease through irrigation
water. Select disease free plants for fresh planting. It is better to spray fungicide
to the layer plant before planting. Sterilize the secateurs used for pruning with fungicide
solution. Treating the affected plant and the surrounding plants in the early stage
will control the disease effectively. Loosen the soil around the affected plant. Put 3
ml Propiconazole, 2 grams of Mancozeb and 3 ml Calpomil in 1 liter of water. Drench
5 liters of the solution around the plant 2-3 times in a week interval. Treat the recovered
plant again after one year. If the farmer neglects this fungal wilt disease he will
have to lose the garden. Bacterial Blight: Bacterial blight is the
most dangerous disease spread to most of the pomegranate gardens in India. It can bring
crop loss up to 30 to 50% or even more. But the plant will not die due to this disease.
Xanthomonas axonopodis bacterium is the causal organism. Pathogen enters the plant system
through wounds or cut ends and stomata. But it never becomes systemic. Initially black-brown
spots appear on the leaves and stems. Later on it spreads like a blotch on the stem like
this. Severely affected twig may break. Star shaped spot appears on the fruit resulting
in splitting. This fruit drops down or becomes unsellable. This bacterial blight is severe
in the rainy season. Cloudy climate and frequent light showers spread this disease to the entire
garden. These bacteria spread to new plantations through
layer plants. Pathogen cannot survive in the soil for long. But it can live for 6 to 8
months in affected plant parts like leaf, stem and fruit. Bacterium again attacks the
next crop from these sources of inoculum. Pathogen spreads to the whole garden through
rainwater splash, flooding water, pruning secateurs, animals, workers and visiting insects.
Select disease free plants carefully for fresh planting. Tissue culture plants are the best
for this purpose. Nourish the plant from the beginning with sufficient quantity of rich
organic manures such as cow dung manure, vermi-compost, neem cake etc. It develops disease resistance
in the plant. It is advised to use Pseudomonas fluorescens and Bacillus subtilis bio agents
as well. Put correct dozes of major and micronutrient fertilizers. Disinfect the secateurs used
for pruning with 25 ml Sodium hypochlorite in 1 liter of water. Allow the workers brought
from other farms for pruning only after cleaning their secateurs and clothing. Keep the garden
clean. In a garden infected with bacterial blight
spray 1% Bordeaux mixture before pruning to bring down the pathogen load on the plants.
Spray Ethereal after pruning to shed all the leaves. Collect stems, fruits and leaves after
pruning and destroy by burning outside the garden. Dust 10 kilograms of bleaching powder
per acre to kill pathogen in the soil. Put half a gram of Streptocycline or half a gram
of Bromopal and 3 grams of COC in 1 liter of water and paint it on the stems. Spray
the same solution 3 times in an interval of 10 days. If the bacterial blight is severe
keep on spraying the same solution once in 15 days. After each spray of this antibiotic
spray zinc sulphate, magnesium sulphate and boron 1 gram each in 1 liter of water to strengthen
disease resistance of the plant. Do not go for the rainy season crop Mrig Bahar in the
gardens affected with bacterial blight. Due to clear sunshine Hasta Bahar and Ambe Bahar
crops escape serious damage by the bacteria. If all the farmers of the area take up all
these control measures it is possible to put a check on this bacterial blight disease.
Control of pest and disease of pomegranate is difficult and costly after infection. Hence
prevention is the better option. Do not go for pomegranate in deep clay soil with poor
drainage. Confirm that the layer plant used for fresh planting is free from diseases,
insects and nematodes. Live fence around the garden by growing Casuarina, Silver oak, Sesbania
etc. in 2 to 3 lines is useful. Few farmers put coconut leaves like this. It blocks pathogens
and insects flowing with the wind to some extent. Some farmers have experienced less
disease incidence by intercropping papaya or mango with pomegranate. Remove and destroy
leaves, stems, fruits and plants infested with pest and diseases without any mercy and
negligence. Destroy it by burning outside the garden. Keep the pomegranate garden free
from weeds. Do not go for high density planting lesser to 10×15 feet. Do not put the plants
for cropping in the rainy season in higher rainfall areas. Supply sufficient quantity
of rich organic manures and balanced fertilizers to build disease resistance in the plants.
Deficiency of micronutrients makes the plant susceptible for the diseases. Correct any
such deficiencies by foliar sprays of required nutrients. Do not put all solid fertilizers
together in to the mixing barrel of the fertigation unit. Dissolve individual fertilizers separately
and then pour it in to the barrel. Avoid over watering and irregular irrigation. Take up
proper training and pruning of the plant so that stems, leaves and fruits inside the plant
canopy get sufficient light and ventilation. Apply all possible organic and cultural methods
of pest and disease control. Use chemicals whenever it is inevitable. Use suitable adhesives
and surfactants to the spray solution to make it to spread and stick on the plant. Motorized
sprayers are better for spraying. Take up spraying only in the cool hours of morning
and evening. Do not spray anything under hot sun. Spray all chemicals separately. Do not
mix all of them except the recommended ones. Excess use of bactericides or antibiotics
weakens the plant. Hence use them only against its necessity and at recommended rate. Use
fertilizers against soil testing and testing of 8th pair of leaves.
Birds damage the ripening fruits. This farmer tied these colored shining ribbons to threaten
the birds. These ribbons produce a typical sound with the wind. In this garden the birds
are chased away by beating this drum 5 to 6 times a day. Cracking of matured fruit is
another major problem in some cases. Sudden variation in the soil moisture level, deficiency
of boron and calcium due to excess nitrogen, improper usage of hormones etc. are the reasons
for fruit cracking. Healthy fruits crack suddenly leading to crop loss up to 50%. Maintain uniform
soil moisture level by drip irrigation. Give correct dozes of fertilizers. If the problem
of fruit cracking is severe spray 10 grams of calcium chloride or 20 grams of calcium
ammonium nitrate in 1 liter of water. Again spray 1 gram of boron in 1 liter of water.
Pomegranate fruit fetches good price if it has attractive colour. Adequate amount of
potash with congenial climate will develop proper colour naturally. If the colour development
is not to the expectation the farmer has to take sprays. Put 5 grams of 0:52:34 fertilizer
or 5 grams of 13:0:45 fertilizer in 1 liter of water and spray it twice. In addition spray
5 grams of 0:0:50 or 13:0:45 fertilizer in 1 liter of water at fruit ripening stage to
enhance colour development. Average yield of pomegranate is 8 to 10 tons
per hector under good management in India. Our farmers are getting INR 60 to 80 per kilogram.
Or in other words average income is INR 7 to 10 lakh per hector. Pomegranate plant once
planted can give commercial yield for 25 to 30 years. Fruit is ready for harvest by 150
to 180 days after pruning. The arils inside the fruit get spoiled and lose the colour
if the harvest is delayed a lot. Immature or over ripened fruit will have poor shelf
life. Unlike other fruits pomegranate will not ripen after harvest. Fruit ready for harvest
will have shiny saffron-red colour. Edges on the fruit disappears and the fruit becomes
round. It produces metallic sound by tapping. Harvest the fruits in the cool hours of morning.
Take care not to make scratches on the skin of the fruit and not to damage the calyx at
the end of the fruit. Heap the harvested fruits in a cool place under shade. For distant markets
or for exports pre-cooling is necessary. Clean the fruit with cloth. Sort out the fruits
with sun burns, rot and bird damage. Expert workers grade the fruits manually by experience.
Grading of the pomegranate fruits is done according to the requirement of the target
market and the country of export. Size or weight of the fruit, colour, insect and disease
spots, scratches on the skin etc. are the criteria for grading. Here we give one model
grading � Super size � 750 grams and above weight, very big size, deep red colour and
no scars on the skin. King size � 500 to 750-gram weight, attractive colour, big size
and no scars on the skin. Queen size � 400 to 500-gram weight, attractive colour and
no scars on the skin. Prince � 300 to 400 gram weight and without any damage to the
skin. 12 A � fruits with 200 to 300 gram weight and one or two scars on the skin. 12
B � all fruits below 250 gram weight. Fruits are packed in this type of box after grading
for domestic markets. Paper shreds are put in layers at the bottom, top and between fruit
layers. This is readily available in the market for INR 15 per kilogram. All boxes are filled
to a particular weight for easy calculation. Grade of the fruit inside and the trade mark
of the garden are mentioned on the box. The open end of the box is closed with a gum tape.
These boxes are ready for dispatch to Bengaluru market.
Maharashtra and Karnataka are in 1st and 2nd place respectively in pomegranate area and
production in India. Pomegranate crop is available throughout the year in Maharashtra and Gujarat
states. A major portion of the production from Karnataka reaches the market between
January and April and between March and June from Andhra Pradesh state. Kolkata, Delhi,
Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Chennai are the major wholesale markets
in India for pomegranate. Export of pomegranate takes place from Mumbai and Kolkata ports.
Bangladesh, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Britain and Netherland are the main countries importing
pomegranate from India. Even though India is in 1st position in area and production
of pomegranate it is in 2nd place in exports after Iran. Pomegranate from Iran and Spain
is the main competitor for Indian fruits in the international markets.
The random samples of fruits from the garden are tested in the lab for chemical residues
for export trade. The fruits with attractive colour and shining belonging to Super-size,
King size and Queen size are eligible for international markets. These fruits must not
have internal degeneration. The arils must have deep red or purple colour with pleasant
aroma. Sugar content or the TSS should be between 16 to 17? brix. The export consignment
should not have immature or over ripened fruits. Skin of the fruit must be free from any scars
of pest or disease and scratches. Selected fruits are cleaned individually with a cloth.
High pressure air is used to clean any dirt or insect in the calyx cup. Size and colour
of the fruits and the weight of the box depends on the destination market or the country.
These boxes are stored at 5 to 7? centigrade temperature and shipped to the target country.
India has many advantages for pomegranate exports. First of all we have highest area
and production. The best varieties with attractive colored skin and arils and soft seeds are
available. Year round production is possible in most of the crop regions of India. Major
production areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka are near to Mumbai port. Hence it is easy
for exports to Gulf and European countries. There are many pomegranate research stations
across the country. Pomegranate export zone is established in Maharashtra. All pomegranate
farmers� cooperative societies have joined hand to establish an apex organization called
�Maha Anar� for export trade. Pomegranate export facility center has come up at Baramati.
Farmers are being trained for the production techniques for pomegranate export. �Global
Gap� certification is done. Pomegranate export is realized under the trade name of
�MahaPom�. There is lot of scope to increase pomegranate exports using all these facilities.
As of now a major portion of pomegranate production is utilized for domestic consumption. Volume
of exports is very less. Good demand and price in the domestic market are the reasons. The
present international price for pomegranate is not that attractive looking to the cost
of production. It is necessary to increase yield or productivity to bring down cost of
production. Inflow of pomegranate to European markets from Iran and Spain recedes after
January. Hence Indian fruits have good demand between February and July. There is lot of
scope to popularize Indian pomegranate in the consumer markets of Canada, USA and South
American countries. We can target even South-East Asian countries, Australia, Japan, Korea and
other countries. Eastern ports need facilities for the export of fruits from Karnataka, Andhra
Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Our farmers are getting INR 60 to 80 per kilogram on average. This
brings an attractive income if the yield is good. We can sustain the same price even after
area expansion if we explore new markets. But the need of the hour is to develop disease
resistant variety to enhance production and productivity. India is expected to come to
first position in the export of pomegranate soon. Pomegranate is the only crop generating
huge income for dry land farmers with very less irrigation water. Let us hope that the
crop stabilizes and brings prosperity for these farmers. Namaskar. 16