Date Palm Trees Fruiting Process
Date Palms are unique in a way that, they have different sexes. They are either a male tree or a female tree. The male trees produce pollen, and the female trees produce flowers. Unfortunately, neither birds nor bees are attracted to the flowers, so the females have to be hand-pollinated. which is the reason why the Date Palm trees fruiting process is different from other fruits. During the last weeks of February, we begin to watch for the sheaths on the male trees to begin splitting open. We check each tree daily. As soon as a sheath on a male tree begins to open, it is tied with string to hold it together, and removed from the tree.
Once the sheath on the male tree opens, we will cut the whole sheath out of the tree, and then hang it upside down to dry. Once the pollen has dried to a very fine powder, we sift it into a large air-tight container for storage.
When we remove a male sheath, you can notice the small split where it is starting to break open. This sheath probably weighs close to 5 kg.
The female trees have the same kind of sheath, and as they begin to flower, we will remove the sheath and separate each strand. We then tie the strands together and hand pollinates the flowers using the fresh pollen that we have collected from the male-trees then we use a small ketchup squirt bottle for this process. We pollinate each female tree at least three times.
Date Palm Trees Fruiting Process:
Around April or May, as the fruit begins to “bud” on the strands, we will begin the thinning process.
First, we open up each bunch of strands that we have tied together. Next, we cut out the middle, leaving only the outside strands. Then we remove about 90% of the dates from each strand. This allows better airflow and the chance for each date to grow to its optimum size.
The temperature is usually to be between 40 to 50 Celsius during May. This is the time when, we are thinning and closer to 50 degrees during the date harvest, so most of our date workers will wear cover themselves fully to protect themselves from the heat.
This is a strand of Piarom Dates before being thinned. By removing the majority of the dates, the ones that are left will have enough room to grow to a much larger size.