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The scientific name of Date palm is Phoenix dactylifera coming from palm family ARACACEAE.
There are more than 3,000 varieties, that are grown around the world. The date varieties that have desirable characteristics have been propagated.
1. BARHEE DATES
Barhee dates is high yielding variety. The tree has large Trunk, and the tree is of medium height, the fruit stalks are long, wide and heavy. The date fruit is light AMBER to DARK BROWN in colour and cylindrical in shape. The ripe fruits are soft, with thick flesh and rich flavor. The tree yields about 6 to 20 bunches of dates per tree and each bunch can weight 8 to 15 kgs.
Climate conditions such as long summer days, high temperature, and mild winter without frost are suitable for farming. These conditions help trees for optimum growth, flowering and Fruiting. The average minimum temperature is 20 degrees Celsius Temperature to survive and grow. At the time of pollination a temperature about 30 degrees Celsius temperature is required. Date trees can tolerate cold winter but with no frost and light rain. During flowering and Fruit setting low relative humidity, and absence of rain and hot temperature is required.
Dates can grow all kinds of soils, and there are no specific soil requirements. Date palm trees are tolerant to soil salinity. Soil with PH 8 to 11 is ideal soil condition. For the best growth and higher Fruit yields, soil such as sandy loamy soils with good moisture relating Areation, and proper drainage are preferable soils having calcium carbonate in it should be avoided for date farming.
SPACING OF DATES PLANT
The espacement adopted in planting of dates is
(1) 7 X 7 meters is 81 plants/Acre ( 23’ X 23’ )
(2) 7.5 X 7.5 meters is 71 plants/Acre ( 25’ X 25’ )
(3) 8.0 X 8.0 meters is 62 plants/Acre (26’ X 26’)
Pits of 1 X 1 X 1 meter are dug in the main field at a spacing given, as per the farmers interest. The pits are left exposed to sun light for two weeks before Tissue culture Plants are planted.
1) Prepare a mixture of 20 kg of Farm Yard Manure,
2) 2 kg of Methyl Parathion 2% dust,
3) 2 kg of caster cake, sand, and saw dust should be well mixed and applied in each pit. Fill the pits with the above mixture with dug out soil. Remove polythene covers and make a small pit in the Centre of big pit and keep the plant and compact the soil.
4) Water the plants daily for 5 to 6 weeks until proper roots are developed.
5) After that, water the plants alternate days. Male plants about 3 to 5% are planted.
IRRIGATION REQUIREMENT OF DATES
Irrigation is provided to young shoots alternate days. Regular irrigation must be provided through DRIP Irrigation. Though the trees grows in dry regions and tolerate drought, yet proper irrigation will help in a proper growth of the tree. Trees that are irrigated will produce a good quality fruits. Avoid excess irrigation as it will damage the roots. The old date palm trees require irrigation once in a week during summer and once in two weeks during winter.
MANURES AND FERTILIZERS
Sufficient organic manures or farm yard manure is applied at the time of land preparation applications of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous are applied at regular intervals. Dosage should be decreased as the plant grew older.
Weeds will absorb all the nutrients and moisture in the soil hampering the development of seedlings and young plants as they grow. Weeds, Removal of weeds and Herbicides will hamper the growth of weeds and control the weed.
PESTS AND DISEASES
(1) White Scale
The pests cause severe damage to young plantation are of Two to Eight years old. The adult and Nymphs suck the sap from the Midribs, leaves and even from Fruits. Though the pest attack is not a Severe attack on the plantation, but fruits that are infected are not marketable, that will reduce income. MINERAL OILS can be used to reduce the pest infestation.
This is also known as GOUBAR mites. These mites are common in all date palm growing places. The larva of these mites feed on fruits causing considerable damage to the yield.
The mites lay eggs on the Fruit stacks and near the Calyx area. The larva feeds on fruits causing the fruit drop off. Infected dates will have less water soluble substance bringing fruit quality grade: to control the mites, dust the date bunches with 100 to 150 grams of Sulphur per tree.
This is a fungal disease affecting young date palms, and even adult trees at the base. The disease cause considerable damage to the date farm and when neglected will attack the whole date plantation. The trees that are affected, the leaf of the middle crown starts becoming “ASH GREY” in colour. The leaves whiten from bottom to top at one side. Follows by whitening from top to bottom on the other side of the leaves. Infected tree roots turn reddish in colour. The disease can be controlled in early stage. Through soil treatment destroying the infected tree by uprooting and INCINERATED is the best method to stop spreading the disease. Treat the soil with METHYL BROMIDE or CHLOROPICRIN to avoid – replanting.
(2) BLACK-SCORCH DISEASE
This disease is also called Fool’s disease caused by fungus (CERATO CYSTISPARADOXA) affected trees soil have black Scorch on the leaves, trunk get soothed, inflorescence bright, and soothing of buds. When terminal buds are attacked it causes serious damage and some trees whose trunk is affected will lead to the tree death. To control this disease, proper sanitation in the first step followed by pruning of attacked parts. Apply COPPER-BASED-FUNGICIDE, on the pruning cuts
(3) OMPHALLA ROOT-ROT
It is also known as decline disease affected date trees show premature bonds death followed by retardation and cessation of growth. The other characteristics include NECROSIS, and destruction of roots. To control this disease, spray BRESTAN or DEXON about four doses once in two weeks.
PRUNING DATE PLANTS
Pruning should be carried out regular basis, old and diseased leaves, when removed timely will make date farm to look fresh and healthy. Pruning in date farming also consists of removing spines removing of undesirable inflorescence. usually the number of leaves on the date tree decides the quality of held inflorescence. Removal of excess leaves will affect the fruit growth, quality and maturing of fruits will be decreased.
POLLINATION OF DATE PLANTS
Individual date trees are either Male OR Female. Hence hand pollination is recommended for successful harvest. Hand pollination means placing of stannous from the male flower over the stigma of the carpets of female flowers for pollen grains. To be successful in date farming one has to be mater the skilled art of knowledge, when the female flowers will blossom and be ready to receive the pollen grains for 100 female mature trees, Three to five male trees are sufficient. When the male tree produces its pollen (usually sometime in February), collect the fine powder from its sheaths and sprinkle it over the female tree’s flowers when they are in bloom. They typically begin to bear fruit in April or May, and are "ripe for the picking" around late August to September.
FRUIT THINNING IN DATES
These are three methods for the fruit thinning.
(a) Removing few strands from the bunch Centre.
(b) Removing strands length by cutting.
(c) Removing number of fruits on each strand. Pruning of fruit will improve fruit quality both in size and nutrition. Pruning helps in yielding high quality fruits which can worth good market value. It is found that in a bunch by removing – one-third of strands from the Centre yielding – high quality fruit.
HARVESTING OF DATES
Date fruits start appearing from third year onwards. Fruits can be harvested depending on market demand.
1) Some will harvested depending on market demand.
2) Some will harvest when the fruits are immature.
3) Some may harvest when the fruits are half ripen.
4) Some may harvest when the fruits are fully ripen.
5) Some may harvest fruits that are well past maturity stage for dried and shriveled fruits
with good growing condition and under best farming practices each tree can produce a yield of about 150 to 200 kg of fruit though the date tree take time to produce fruits in the early years but will bear fruits for the next 50 to 70 years.
COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS
|1)||Cost of female saplings||70 X 4,250||Rs. 2,97,500|
|2)||Cost of male saplings||10 X 4,250||Rs. 42,500|
|3)||Labour charges for pitting and planting||80 X 150||Rs. 12,000|
|4)||Fertilizer and chemicals||L.S.||Rs. 4,350|
|5)||Irrigational Drip||L.S.||Rs. 30,000|
|6)||Water||6000 X 12||Rs. 72,000|
|7)||Miscellaneous expense||L.S.||Rs. 1,650|
ii. 1ST YEAR MAINTENANCE
|1)||Fertilizer and Chemical||Acre||Rs. 4,000|
|2)||Inter plough / cultivation||Acre||Rs. 1,500|
|3)||Water||6000 X 12 month||Rs. 72,000|
iii. INCOME FROM DATES
|1)||3rd year yield (After planting)||70 X 50 kg X Rs. 150/-||Rs. 5,25,000|
|2)||4th year yield (After planting)||70 X 50 kg X Rs. 150/-||Rs. 5,25,000|
|3)||5th year yield (After planting)||70 X 100 kg X Rs. 150/-||Rs. 10,50,000|
|4)||9th year yield (After planting)||70 X 200 kg X Rs. 150/-||Rs. 21,00,000|
TIPS FOR GROWING DATE PALM TREES
1) Apply organic manure in early spring.
2) Fertilizers rich in potassium will be added advantage to the trees.
3) Avoid frequent and over irrigation.
4) Excess moisture in the soil can inhibit growth.
5) Avoid weed growth five feet radius from the tree base.
6) Proper timely pruning of leaves and thinning of fruit is recommended.
7) Fruit clusters or branches should be tied to adjacent branches for support.
8) Cover the fruit clusters with net / bag / craft paper to protect from birds and pests.
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