Since the start of the crop's commercial production in Extremadura in 2010 by the company Mogalla, pomegranate cultivation has expanded remarkably in the region. Until then, there were only several hundred trees scattered throughout the region, but this company, originally from Cartaya, in Huelva, and which has three farms in Extremadura, was the first to give it a shot. "Until then, our business was mostly focused on citrus production in the provinces of Seville and Huelva, but that year we decided to bet on new products, such as pomegranates and kakis, in Extremadura in order to spread out risk and expand the supply to our customers," says Daniel Blanco, commercial director of Mogalla.
Over the years, other companies have come and the crop has been expanding in the region. According to official statistics, in 2017 there were already 276 hectares in Extremadura (230 in the province of Badajoz and 46 in Caceres), but only 28 of them were in production, since pomegranates need between two and three years to start bearing fruit. In that campaign, the total pomegranate production amounted to 378 tons; a very low amount, considering that the national production stood at 65,000 tons.
However, in the latest report, corresponding to 2019 and still with provisional data, that figure has multiplied by 12. Extremadura has reached 4,700 tons and become the region with the third largest production in Spain, only behind Murcia and the Region of Valencia. The province of Alicante is still far ahead, with more than 43,000 tons harvested.
Currently, Mogalla has around 150 hectares devoted to this crop. No other company in Extremadura has more pomegranates than they. Sol de Badajoz, based in Valdivia, is the only one that comes close, with about 80 hectares.
There are three pomegranate varieties in its plantations: Wonderful, Acco and Mollar. The harvest started at the end of August at the Peñalobar farm, between Guareña and Don Benito, where they have the earliest of the three varieties: the Acco. This one's characterized by a red color on the outside and a rather bittersweet flavor. The harvest has also just kicked off in its other two plantations in Olivenza, in which the Mollar and Wonderful varieties predominate. The former, sweeter and with a chromatic appearance similar to cream, is the most common in Spain. The latter, redder and sourer, is the most cultivated in the world.
The harvest lasts until mid-November; however, if kept in cold rooms, the pomegranates will remain in good condition without problems until early January.