Low Desert Pomegranate, Olive Production

Good growing conditions, water availability, and potential lower production costs make the Southern California and Arizona low desert potential ground for pomegranate and olive production.

California's San Joaquin Valley is the U.S. production Mecca for an estimated 22,000 acres of pomegranates and about 40,000 acres of olives.

Several desert plantings are taking root. Very small pomegranate plantings are located in California's Riverside County in Blythe and other areas, according to Tom Shea, staff research associate, University of California Cooperative Extension, Riverside County, Moreno Valley, Calif. "We are getting lots of questions about pomegranates," Shea said.

A two-year-old, 50-acre pomegranate planting is located just south of the U.S.-Mexico border near San Luis, Sonora, Mexico, according to Glenn Wright, associate research scientist with the University of Arizona, Yuma. Wright says there is also a pomegranate planting in Yuma County.

A super high density olive planting is located near Niland in Imperial County. Another is in Yuma County, Wright says. A boutique olive farm and mill is located in Queen Creek near Phoenix. Grower Gary Wood uses water from his shrimp operation in Gila Bend, Ariz., to grow 500 acres of table olives.

Wright discussed pomegranates and olives during an alternative desert crop seminar at the 2010 Southwest Agricultural Summit in Yuma.
Contact name: 
Glenn Wright, Yuma Agricultural Center
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Released date: 
Jul 5 2010