You would think that nothing could be better than growing dates, since you don’t need anything out of the ordinary. It seems like it should be a very safe activity, especially when you do not use pesticides to grow your medjool dates, but things are not always what they seem. There are all kinds of hidden perils. The fruit that is not good enough for consumption is disposed into the ground and fruit left on the date palm, likewise makes its way to the ground. The fruit on the ground in turn brings field mice which in turn bring in field mice predators. The primary predator for the field mouse is probably the local rattle snake and to a lesser extent owls and hawks. The peril being the rattle snake. If you are not careful you can step on a rattlesnake and get bitten by a rattlesnake when working on the date palms or harvesting. Not too many people get bitten by rattle snakes, but it is definitely rattlesnake country. When working on the tractor to clear the weeds you run the risk of getting caught on the date palm fronds. On occasion you may fall grab from a date frond and tear your hand. The fronds have thorns and dangerous so you get cuts and scratches, year round when you work on the date palms. Medjool dates in particular are labor intensive and therefore require constant vigilance when working on the date palms.GHTime Code(s): nc
Today dates continue to be a staple food of the desert in the Middle East. The UAE has increased production significantly by subsidizing the various things that go into the production of dates and date palms; by making low cost financing available; by requiring all farmers to plant more dates, in fact there are requirements that all farmers must have 200 date and to sell the product to specific markets; and also by encouraging policies that help market and price dates on the basis of varieties and grades.
Dates are graded according to the amount of moisture and sweetness. Dry dates ten to have moisture in the range of about 8-10%. Semidry dates have moisture content in the 11-16% range and soft dates have moisture content of 17-22%. Most of the dates in the UAE are of the soft type of dates. About 26 varieties are commercial varieties, but many more are grown in the UAE.
The date industry continues to be an important part of the economies of most Middle Eastern countries. Dates are also an integral part of culture and custom in the Middle East. The UAE has the highest per capita consumption of dates in the world. The date fruit can be stored for more than 2 years. Making it an important food in a world where our population is growing extremely fast. In the UAE the harvesting season starts in the summer and could go to about October. Farmers typically pick dates on a daily basis and sell them at wholesale markets. This contrasts with the harvest season in the Coachella Valley where the date festival is held in winter after the harvest which takes place in early fall. Many of the farmers growing dates also feed dates to their livestock. The date fruit bed to the livestock is at the tamar stage. This is in addition to other food fed to the live stock.
The period of highest demand for date fruit is the same worldwide it is during the month of Ramada, during the Eid Al-Fitr and at the end of the month of Al-Adha.
About 100 years ago the closes place to buy dates was the Middle East or North Africa. Now a days you can buy dates in many different places throughout the country. It is a lot easier to buy dates, because most of the dates consumed in the US are grown in the US. The majority of dates are medjool dates and deglet noor dates, both of which are grown in the Coachella Valley in California. Arizona is rapidly growing as a leading producer of medjool dates and may eventually account for a larger portion of all dates produced. This is especially true, because the Coachella Valley is the golfing capital of the world and many of yesterday’s date orchards are now golf courses. There are many young and upcoming date orchards, but the older heavy producing date farms turned into golf courses. Nonetheless it is still possible to buy dates throughout most of the country and directly from many date growers.GHTime Code(s): nc nc