The Care and Harvesting of Dates
The care and harvesting of dates is a very delicate and labor-intensive process that takes an entire year.
January thru February:
Dethorning: Depending on the size of the date palm, approximately 800 to 1600 thorns are taken off of each tree by using large curved knives.
February thru March:
Pollinating: It is essential for each flower bunch to be pollinated evenly on both sides. To ensure even and complete absorption, the pollen is applied over the next several weeks. A generator and garden blowers are used in the application to the flowers. One male palm can pollinate 48 to 50 female trees.
March thru April:
Arching: A slight arch is applied to the bunch to enable the bunch to be worked on properly. This is achieved by bending the bunch a little in order to form an arch.
Centers': The center of the bunches are cut out leaving only the crown, which consist of approximately 34 to 40 strings to allow for proper ventilation of fruit while it is maturing.
Off shoots: The off shoots are taken off the mother palm and put into the nursery.
April thru May:
Thinning: Bunches are thinned allowing for room to grow and the proper ventilation.
May thru June:
Securing: Bunches are tied and secured firmly to the trees to prevent damage from wind and weight. It also allows for spacing and continued ventilation.
Removal of excess limbs: Cutting off the excess limbs allows for easier access for the machines to reach the dates when picking begins.
June thru July:
Rings are placed in the center of the bunches to allow continued ventilation.
Sacks are placed on the bunches and tied firmly to prevent birds from picking at the ripe fruit and to keep the dates from falling to the ground.
August thru September:
Harvesting: The dates are picked as they mature.
Cleaning: Sacks and rings are removed from the trees, cleaned and stored for the coming year.
Trimming: Once harvesting is completed the bunches are removed and mulched back into the soil.
November thru December:
Cleaning the off shoots and maintaining the nursery: This process is done by a very small crew and is necessary preparation for the next growing season.