Farmers find niche in pomegranate production

Mar 19, 2010

Growing demand for pomegranate juice, with its many purported health benefits, is increasing farmers' interest in cultivating the drought-resistant crop, according to a story in the Lodi News.

The article featured a new, vertically integrated agribusiness venture being developed by San Joaquin County partners John Ferreira and John Cotta. The team are converting acreage from thirsty alfalfa to a crop cultivated since ancient times in Middle Eastern desert regions.

"I wanted to get away from chemicals and pesticides and high water usage," Ferreira told reporter Jordan Guinn.

The partners are planning to crush their own pomegranates on the farm to produce smooth, not-too-acidic pomegranate juice, pomegranate wine, and even candles, oils and makeup made from the skins, rinds and seeds of pomegranates.

Eating pomegranates fresh never really caught on in the United States. Until demand for juice grew, the pomegranate industry didn't take off, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Joe Grant told the reporter. Paramount Farm's POM Wonderful is credited with raising the fruit juice's currency.

The San Joaquin Valley's Mediterranean climate provides an excellent environment for pomegranate cultivation.

"They grow like weeds out here," Grant was quoted.

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By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist