Date Palm Cultivation: Basic Guide for Beginners
By Fatima Muraina
The climate is particularly important to the date palm production. It necessitates a long summer, a warm winter, no rain during flowering and fruiting, low relative humidity, and plenty of sunlight.
Date palm cultivation can be done in a wide range of soils.
Best soil: sandy loam and well-drained soils with no hardpan below within 60-90cm range and with a pH of 8-10.
Although date palm farming can be done in saline and alkaline soil, the growth and yield gets affected.
Mode of Propagation
Off-shoots or suckers: This is the most common mechanism of propagation. The offshoots should be picked from the mother tree’s base. After 4-5 years of planting, you must separate the sucker. During the 4th and 10th years of the tree, you can get 9-20 suckers weighing 9-15 kg. In its entire productive life, a single date tree can produce 10-25 offshoots. This is a slow multiplication process that produces a large yield.
Soil preparation: Plough soil 2-3 times. Level it and bring it to a fine tilth stage. Dig pits of 1m x 1m x 1m during summer as preparation for monsoon. Let the pits stay open for 15 days. Use well-rotten FYM (Farm Yard Manure) + soil to fill the pits.
Immediate irrigation is essential after plantation. Drought and over-irrigation do not affect the date palm production. Both, though, are hazardous.
The date palm prefers a steady level of moisture in the soil. Waterlogged soil, on the other hand, should be avoided.
Water should be drained if there is a flood.
5-6 irrigations per year are sufficient in places with a high water table.
It’s important to irrigate the soil right after planting. You can reduce the frequency of irrigation after the off-shoots appear.
Mulching with dried leaves and grasses is an excellent idea. This aids in soil moisture retention, especially in arid and semi-arid climates.
Pest & Diseases
Pests: Black headed Caterpillar, Red Weevil/Indian Palm Weevil
Rhinoceros Beetle/Black Palm Beetle Scale Insects , Birds
Diseases are False Smut/Graphiola Leaf Spot and other similar fungal diseases. Use of fungicide and Bordeaux mixture is helpful.
Harvesting is done on the basis of growth and ripening stages. This is because dates are consumed at different stages of maturity.
Dates are normally picked when they reach the Khalal stage, which has a high water content of up to 70% to 80%. At room temperature, they have a poor keeping quality. The best way to keep its quality is to keep it cold. However, in order to keep their freshness and crunchiness, they should be sold as quickly as feasible.
Alternatively, they must be cured and processed in order to create value-added goods. Dates that have been dried have a longer shelf life, up to a year.