The pomegranate, botanical name Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between 5–8 meters (16–26 ft) tall. The pomegranate is widely considered to have originated in Iran and has been cultivated since ancient times. Today, it is widely cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, the Middle East and Caucasus region, northern Africa and tropical Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia and the drier parts of southeast Asia. It is grown in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The total area under cultivation of pomegranate in India is 107.00 thousand ha and production is around 743.00 thousand tons. Maharashtra is the leading producer of pomegranate followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. In India, pomegranate is commercially cultivated in Solapur, Sangli, Nasik, Ahmednagar, Pune, Dhule, Aurangabad, Satara, Osmanabad and Latur districts of Maharashtra; Bijapur, Belgaum and Bagalkot districts of Karnataka and to a smaller extent in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. According to the data published by National Horticulture Board of India there is a undersized decrease in the area of pomegranate cultivation in India from 109.00 thousand ha in 2008-09 to 107.00 thousand ha in 2010-11; similarly, the production has decreased from 807.00 thousand tons to 743.00 thousand tons during the same period.
Important pomegranate varieties cultivated in India are Alandi or Vadki, Dholka, Kandhari, Kabul, Muskati Red, Paper Shelled, Spanish Ruby, Ganesh (GB I), G 137, P 23, P 26, Mridula, Aarakta, Jyoti, Ruby, IIHR Selection, Yercaud 1 and Co 1.
Harvest starts in the third leaf. Harvest costs will vary according to yield. Pomegranate being a non-climacteric fruit should be picked when fully ripe. Pomegranate plants take 4-5 years to come into bearing. Harvesting of immature or over mature fruits affects the quality of the fruits. The fruits become ready for picking 120-130 days after fruit set. The calyx at the distal end of the fruit gets closed on maturity. At maturity, the fruits turn yellowish-red and get suppressed on sides. Crew sizes will vary, but a crew of 10 is assumed in this study for the third and fourth years with the grower furnishing one tractor with a bin trailer. Thereafter, a crew of 20 is assumed and the grower furnishes two tractors and two bin trailers. The pomegranate orchard reaches full maturity in the sixth year. The harvests costs will vary according to yield. The grower’s picking crew (20 pickers) using ladders and bags supplied by an independently owned and operated packing shed harvests the crop.
Fruits can be stored in cold storage upto 2 months or 10 weeks at a temperature of 500 C. Longer storage should be at 100 0C and 95% RH to avoid chilling injury and weight loss.
The size of packages varies according to the grade of the fruits. Corrugated fibre board boxes are mostly used. In a single box, 4-5 queen sized fruits, 12 prince sized and some of 12-A and 12-B grades may be packed. The white coloured boxes having 5 plies are generally used for export purpose, whereas red-coloured ones having 3 plies are used for domestic markets. The red coloured boxes are cheaper than white coloured ones. The cut pieces of waste paper are generally used as cushioning material.