The Incredible Date

Blog, Fruit

Besides being the most graceful fruit-bearing tree, the Date Palm is one of the most valuable.  Few trees grow to be as tall or provide such a cornucopia of fruit.  They are also infused with the power to resist heat and drought and are probably the oldest tree cultivated by man for centuries!  History tells us that they began life in the Euphrates and Tigris River Valleys.

Without the palm tree, many parts of Arabia and the Sahara would not be inhabitable.  Along with all its other values, it is considered to be the most important food plant of the great deserts, growing in oases and capable of absorbing more alkali from the soil than any other fruit tree.  In the United States, dates are grown in several hot, irrigated valleys of Arizona and California.  These areas include the Imperial Valley and the Coachella Valley in Southern California (where your date palms are lovingly tended) and the Colorado, Gila, and Salt River valleys of Arizona.  Other countries where the date is grown successfully are China, Italy, France, and Spain.

The Date Palm can reach a height of 100 feet.  Its trunk is straight with rough bark, and its large cluster of leaves and bounty of fruit appear at the top.  The leaves resemble huge feathers 12 to 18 feet long, and each year there are about 12 to 20 of them.  The fresh green color of the leaves last several years (looking as though they had just bloomed) and then pale gradually and lean toward the trunk.  In very arid regions, they remain as though preserved.

There are male palms with staminate blossoms and females with pistillate blossoms.  If they grow in the wild, the wind will carry the pollen from male to female, but in cultivated crops (that yours are) farmers tie sprays of male blossoms to female flower clusters.  Each cluster produces a bunch of dates weighing from ten to forty pounds and a strong, vigorous tree can provide from 8 to 12 such bunches.  The tree is usually grown from shoots and begins to bear fruit within four to eight years.  It sometimes continues to bear fruit until it is 100!

The Medjhool Dates are the most prized of all the dates.  In June and July, the fruit enters the Khalal stage, and the dates begin to turn yellow or red.  In the intense heat of August, they ripen quickly.  That is when the farmers must protect them from birds, insects, and rain by swaddling them in cloth and net bags.

Then the dates, still carefully covered, enter the Rutab stage when the tips of the fruit soften and they turn the familiar amber or brown shade.  As the Rutab phase progresses, most dates become sweet, soft, and delicate.  It is at this point where our growers make the difficult decision–to pick or not.  A ripe date is a sticky date.  If not handled properly, it can spoil.  Then, if left too long on the tree it could ferment.

Your Medjhool dates are not permitted to remain on the tree long enough to approach the Tamar stage.  Re-hydrating is not in accordance with the principles of organic farming that our growers abide by.  That is why you will be delighted with the dates.

Blog Articles