Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is a tree of the palm family Arecaceae, grown in many tropical regions of the world and cultivated for its sweet edible fruits. The dates include many varieties (e.g., Deglet Noor or Medjool), all have a long shelf life, and can be sold dried and processed. The dried fruits contain more than 50% sugar and about 2% of protein, fat, and minerals.
Date palms are grown under warmer climates. The tree can get up to 23-30 meters tall and ends in a crown of upward-pointing, overlapping, pinnate leaves about 6 meters long. The palm tree has small male and female flowers that are usually separated into different plants. However, some date palms bearing both male and female flowers. The female flowers are whitish in color, while the male flowers are waxy and cream-colored. Under cultivation, the female flowers are artificially pollinated. The date itself is a one-seeded fruit, or drupe, usually oblong and up to 7 cm long. More than 1,000 dates may appear on a single bunch weighing 8 kg or more. The date may vary in shape, size, color, quality, and consistency of the flesh, according to the conditions of culture and the variety.
It is possible to propagate the palm tree either from seeds or from suckers, which are offshoots that arise around the stem's base during the first years of the tree. When the offshoots are three to six years old and have formed roots of their own, they are removed and planted. Palm trees begin to bear fruit in 4 to 5 years after planting and reach their max production at 10 to 15 years, yielding 40 to 80 kg or more each. Palms can live as long as 150 years, but they are usually replaced much earlier as their fruit production declines.
When the tree is dormant, it may stand even colder temperatures. High fruit production is possible only in areas with a permanent hot and dry growing season with daily maximum temperatures of 32°C. Even though the tree can tolerate long periods of drought, high water requirements are essential for greater fruit yields. The tree thrives in sandy loam, clay, or other heavy soils with good drainage and aeration and can tolerant alkali soils.
Farmers Pain Points
Climate: Usually planted in arid areas, very sensitive to rain or cold temperatures.
Varieties: It is crucial to match the growing area to the right variety. Medjool dates are the most sought after.
Harvest: Trees can reach 20m and up and cranes need to be purchased. The plantation must be planned for the big machinery.
Post-Harvest: The market price drops dramatically when the fruit is less than perfect and there are 16 possible sizes/categories.
Economy: Usually fruiting after 3 years and gets to the break-even point after the 7th year, the investment is long term.
Packing: Products must be harvested in the optimum time and brought to the packing house to be cooled to the right temperature and kept in the right humidity. After cleaning and sorting the products, the best value is usually in small and smart packages that will be sent to the supermarkets/clients without stopping in another station. Tracking the whole chain from field to customer is crucial to being cost-effective and tracking claims/recalls. The whole operation must be registered with an international standard.
Characterizing the requirements for growing date palm in your region.
Identifying the best varieties for growing conditions and growers’ needs.
Plot design – planting density and irrigation system.
Fertilizing program to achieve maximum yield potential.
Pesticiding protocol and guidelines.
Post-harvest guidance and solutions.
Ongoing technical support to ensure best results and customers’ satisfaction.