Medjool and Barhi Offset Growth.

 

To preserve the varietal traits, "Medjool"and "Barhi" dates have to be reproduced by rooting cuttings from parent trees rather than growing plants fromseed. There are male and female date palm trees, and only females bear fruit. Most commercial orchards consist of female trees only. They are hand pollinated with pollen from separately grown male trees. Female offsets or offshoots grow slowly to begin with. It takes 18 to 36 months for a bud to develop at the base of the trunk of the parent tree and begin to grow outward. After another three to four years depending on growing conditions and the size of the parent, the offset is big enough to separate from the mother plant. It is usually 1 foot tall. It is a delicate operation requiring special tools

 

In nurseries, palms grow about 2 to 3 feet a year. Ordinarily the height of the leaves is not included in the height calculation of nursery plants. A tree that stands 12 feet tall with leaves has a woody trunk 4 feet high, which would mean about two years' growth after the offshoot was rooted. For planting in date orchards, offshoots are grown as container plants for one or two years before planting in the ground. Best results come from planting rooted offshoots that are 3 to 5 years old and weigh from 40 to 75 pounds.

 

It takes about three years for a rooted offshoot to bloom for the first time, when it is around 4 or 5 feet tall. After another year it may have some fruit, but substantial crops don't come until the offshoot is 5 or 6 years old, or about 6 to 7 feet tall. Fruit yield for 5- to 8-year-old trees is about 22 pounds per tree; for 13-year-old trees the crop is approximately 176 pounds. Trees can reach 20 feet tall, excluding leaves, in 15 to 20 years, depending on growing conditions. A date palm that's over 100 years old can reach more than 100 feet tall.

 

At least 2 offshoots can be taken from each palm annually for a period of 10 to 15 years. Newly planted date palms to produce dates in about 5 years.

Ordinarily, in palms 5 to 8 years old, the first crop will be up to 22 lbs per palm; at 13 years, up to 176 lbs.

In 8 or 10 years, the date will attain full production and it will keep on for a century though pro- ductivity declines after 60 to 80 years and also the flowers will be too high to pollinate and the fruits too high to pick.

 

High humidity and rain during fruit development will cause minute cracks (checking), begin- ning at the apex of the fruit which ultimately darkens.

The offshoots are taken off the mother palm tree, nurtured in our nursery, and then planted to create a new date garden. And the cycle of Perfect continues.