Date Palm Fruit Production
After pollination female date palms start to develop dates. Generally, a female Date palm tree begins to bear about the fifth year. The date fruits mature approximately in seven months.
Fruit thinning is very important in order to produce quality dates. For good sizing and skin quality farmers hand thin each strand withing the bunches. Sometimes they remove strands and complete bunches. This gives the developing dates plenty room to size corectly.
Also as the fruit-bearing stalks weight increases, they bend over. Sometimes date bunches can not hold their own weight and drop from the trees before ripening. To give support, they are tied down to the lower fronds.
In addition, farmers cover date strands with small bags to create heat for developing large date and also to protect them from birds, bats, wind, rain, sunand falling to the ground.
The fruits are harvested from September to early December. Dates are picked by hand one at a time because they ripen at different times. When fully ripe medjool dates are deep mahogany brown in color with glossy wringled skin.
A full grown date palm (at 10-12 years old and bejond) yields about 200-250 pounds. Usually there are 12-15 clusters of dates per a single mature tree, and one cluster weights about 20 pounds.
Date fruits can be eaten immediately, frozen or stored to dry.
After the harvest, farmers begin cleaning the palms. They remove old branches that held fruits. Also they remove thorns from fronds in preparation for the next year.
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