The date palm trees are from the Palmaceae family. They come from the Persian Gulf and they grow in the arid and subtropical regions. The main producers are Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq and Algeria (source: FAO). Its fruit, the date, make bunches of until 25 kg of mature fruit and it reaches it whole development in several months. It has an oval shape, it is smooth and with a long and grooved seed. In some countries, the fruits are covered with paper bags to protect them from the elements (rain, dust) and the rodents.
Climate and soil requirements
The date palms tolerate high climatic differences. The optimum development temperature is of 30ºC, although they can stand ranges of 8ºC and 45ºC. It is important from the commercial point of view that the humidity is kept low in the maturing and harvest periods. Humidity could cause problems in most of the varieties.
The date grows in nearly all type of soil: Light, medium and heavy with good drainage and ventilation. The date is resistant to drought and alkaline soils. When saline water is used to irrigate, there are fallings in production and quality.
Depending of the variety, the plantation spacing varies. The most common are the spacing of 10x10m and the densities of approximately 100 trees by hectare. In the small palm cultivations the density is of around 200 trees by hectare.
Most of the modern plantations are irrigated with drip irrigation systems, although the traditional ones are still irrigated by flood or furrows. The date must have a continuous water supply. In some regions they are irrigated even twice a day. The irrigation is the biggest cost in a palm plantation because the roots must have a constant humidity supply.