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Home HortScience For Pomegranates, the Number of Arils Matters for Fruit Size
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<strong>ATHENS, GA—Native to central Asia, pomegranates have been used in foods, cosmetics and medications since ancient times. A recent spike in pomegranate’s popularity has been attributed to reports that the fruit juice may offer a range of health benefits, notably protection against heart disease, prostate cancer, hypertension, and infectious diseases.

To stay abreast of consumer demand for premium pomegranates, a global team of horticultural scientists studied methods of better estimating pomegranate fruit size. According to University of Georgia professor Hazel Y. Wetzstein, lead author of a study that appeared in HortScience, because larger fruits bring premium prices at market, understanding pomegranate attributes is essential to growers.

"In commercial orchards, the size of fruits produced can be quite variable, even with trees of the same genotype grown under similar cultivation practices," Wetzstein said. "Although pomegranates have been cultivated since antiquity, fruit attributes—especially those related to size—have not been clearly defined. A number of fundamental questions remain unanswered. How does fruit composition change with fruit size? What characteristics are associated with larger fruit? Does juice content change with fruit size?"

To address some of the unanswered questions Wetzstein and colleagues designed a study to evaluate fruit attributes in 'Wonderful' pomegranates. The team determined correlations between fruit characteristics and used factor analysis to establish a fruit index that can be used to select and rate fruit. Results showed that larger pomegranate fruits were heavier, had greater numbers of arils, and more total aril weight. According to the report, this "extremely high correlation" between fruit volume and weight indicated that weight can be interchangeably used to indicate size. The results indicated that because fruit volume, fruit weight, and total aril weight are closely correlated, any single character can be used as a common indicator of fruit size.

The study will help pomegranate breeders understand the fundamental aspects of fruit development that determine size and help define those components that can be environmentally manipulated versus those which are genetically fixed. The researchers say their findings point to a need for crop production strategies aimed at increasing aril numbers as a means to growing larger pomegranates.


The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site:

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at


Original Article:

Characterization of Attributes Related to Fruit Size in Pomegranate
Hazel Y. Wetzstein, Zibin Zhang, Nadav Ravid, and Michael E. Wetzstein
HortScience 46:908–912. [Abstract][Full Text][PDF]

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