Pomegranates are grown throughout Afghanistan, thriving on the country’s hot summers and cool winters. The southern province of Kandahar is the cradle of Afghan pomegranate production, with commercial exports produced in Zabul, Farah and Balkh provinces as well.
Afghanistan has 79 varieties of pomegranates, the most popular export variety being the Kandahari. It produces large fruit (>79mm) weighing >300g, with hard seeds and dark red juice. This variety is grown mainly in Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Helmand, Farah and Nimroz provinces. There are several niche market orientated varieties with the main three being: Tashkughani (grown in Balkh province), Tagabi Danadar (grown in Kapisa province) and Tagabi Bedana, a soft-seeded variety grown almost exclusively in Tagab district of Kapisa province.
Plant only improved varieties that are of a high quality and disease-free.
Plant new orchards with a high planting density (4m x 4m) and a north/south orientation of the rows.
Add a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the tree to keep the ground free of weeds that compete with the tree for nutrients. Keep the mulch several inches from the tree trunk to prevent trunk rot.
Ensure proper canopy pruning to allow optimal sunlight penetration.
Prune excess branches and buds to maximize plant energy reaching the fruit and thin out less developed or diseased fruit.
Irrigation management is vital for plant health and to prevent fruit cracking. Pomegranates should receive moisture every 4-7 days to prevent water stress.
Fertilize regularly for plant health and vigorous growth.
Apply integrated pest management to achieve optimal yields.
Fruit should be checked for color and sweetness (brix) before harvest. Harvest ideally should be at a minimum range of between 18-20° brix.
Harvest early in the morning so fruit is at its coolest core temperature. Stop harvesting once ambient temperature exceeds 20⁰C.
Fruit to be clipped with very short stem, not pulled from tree.
Transfer harvested fruit to reusable field crates and keep out of the sun.
Deliver fruit to packing house within 24 hours of harvest with crates identifying farm and date harvested unless the product is to be field packed.
Wash fruit and sanitize with chlorine (100-200ppm).
Grade and sort as per market specifications.
To increase shelf life, treat with a recommended fungicide (depending on market) and then wax.
Fruit may be inserted into plastic sleeves to prevent damage during shipment.
Further process options include aril (seed) extraction for sale as ready-to-eat product or juicing. Waste can be used for making essential oil, tannins for leather or for livestock feed.