The earliest varieties of pomegranates are later and slightly smaller than the 2009 deal, but projections of smaller volume seem to be unfounded, California grower-shippers said.

“Sizing of early wonderfuls and wonderfuls is just as good as it was last year,” said Angie Eastham, West Coast sales manager for Reedley, Calif.-based Pacific Trellis Fruit.

“Our early wonderfuls will peak on 30-32s and larger, and the wonderfuls should come in the 20s.”

The harvest of early foothills, the earliest variety for Pacific Trellis Fruit, is beginning to wind down, she said, and was expected to wrap up by mid-September. The early foothills peaked at 40-42s, “just as they did last year,” Eastham said.

The early wonderful harvest at Pacific Trellis Fruit began Sept. 8, she said.

Picking of wonderfuls is scheduled to begin the first week in October.

The overall volume for pomegranates at Pacific Trellis Fruit is projected to be about 120,000 cartons, Eastham said.

Crown Jewels Marketing LLC, Fresno, Calif., is starting its second season of adding the Ensher, Alexander & Barsoom Inc., Sacramento, Calif., pomegranate crop to its inventory. Volume is projected to be about 350,000 cartons, said Atomic Torosian, managing partner of Crown Jewels.

“The fruit set is a tad lighter than it was last year, but that should create a little better sizing,” he said.

All varieties are running later than 2009. Crown Jewels began packing early foothills in early September and planned to begin the early wonderful harvest by mid-month, Torosian said.

The bulk of the pomegranate volume for Crown Jewels will come from the wonderful variety. Packing of wonderfuls is scheduled to begin about Oct. 7, he said.

Volume was too low for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue f.o.b.s for the crop.

Simonian Fruit Co., Fowler, Calif., another of the San Joaquin Valley’s major pomegranate grower-shippers, is expecting volume of about 300,000 cartons, said Jeff Simonian, salesman.

Picking of early foothills was scheduled to begin the week of Sept. 13, he said, and will be followed by angel reds, Urbanek granite, Simonian Fruit’s proprietary variety, and other varieties.

“With our various varieties, we’ll have promotable supplies of pomegranates from now until probably March,” he said.

Concerns about a light fruit set were not evident in the early varieties.

“The first picking seems normal, but perhaps there will be some smaller fruit in the second picking,” Simonian said.

Pomegranate volume will be up this season at Valhalla Sales & Marketing Co., Visalia, said Steve Nelsen, co-owner.

More growers have been added to the list the company is representing, he said, and will boost volume to upwards of 50,000 cartons.

Valhalla has postponed harvesting until early October, Nelsen said.

“We have beautiful size and beautiful exterior color, but the flesh has been slow to color,” he said.

Madera, Calif.-based Bari Produce LLC also has decided to delay the pomegranate harvest. Picking of early wonderfuls should start about Oct. 1, said Justin Bedwell, president of marketing, with the wonderful harvest scheduled to begin in mid-October.

Bari Produce expects to market about 50,000 cartons this season, he said.

“These are young trees,” Bedwell said. “We expect the volume to grow substantially in the coming years.”

The pomegranate volume at Western Fresh Marketing Services Inc., Madera, figures to come in at about the 2009 level, said Chris Kragie, vice president.

“We’ll market up to 60,000 cartons of pomegranates,” he said.

The pomegranate season at Fruit Patch Sales Inc., Dinuba, Calif., starts with granadas, followed by early foothills, early wonderfuls and wonderfuls. Picking of the wonderfuls is expected to start in late September, trade marketing manager Sabrina Mak said.

The size, quality and volume for all varieties are looking good, she said.

There are changes — rumored and otherwise — on the horizon for the pomegranate industry.

The industry grapevine indicates more grower-shippers are electing to switch to fresh pick as opposed to sending the fruit to juice processors, grower-shippers said.

A growing offshore pomegranate industry could lead to year-round availability, Torosian said.

“There are at least two large pomegranate plantations in South America, and that industry is growing,” he said.