The date palm can live to about 100 years or even more, reaching a height between 15 to 30 m. while its green leaves extend in length between 3 – 6 meters.
Wind helps in pollinating the dates. Manual pollination techniques are used in commercial orchards by skilled laborers. Special climbing tools are used for the purpose. Natural pollination occurs among equal number of female and male plants. One male has the ability to pollinate to about 100 females and hence, termed as a pollinator. Often manual techniques use wind machines for blowing pollens onto female flowers.
How dates grow
There is present a single seed in dates of a length of 2 to 2.5 cm and thickness of 6 to 8 mm. The fruit type depends upon sucrose, fructose and glucose content in them. Sukkari seed is bigger when compared to that of Ajwa or Saggae.
It is huge clusters that dates are grown, developing beneath the leaves, weighing about 40 pounds. 1,000+ dates are yielded by bigger trees every year, even though all of them do not ripen simultaneously, thereby requiring several harvests. For ensuring that the fruit is made of marketable quality, it is to be thinned and covered or bagged before ripening. This way, the fruits can grow bigger and also be safeguarded from pests and weather.
Date ripening stages
Throughout the ripening stage, dates have various textures, tastes and colors.
- 1st stage – 1 Week (Hababook) – Fruits are light green and small round having horizontal stripes.
- 2nd stage – 5-17 weeks (Green Date Kimri) – It becomes greener, bitter and oval.
- 3rd stage – 19-25 weeks (Yellow/Red Date Khalal) – An early ripening stage, with the fruit turning red or yellow, grown to full size, tasting crunchy, however, dry having slight sweet taste.
- 4th stage – 20-28 weeks (Wet Date Rutub) – At this particular stage, the date becomes soft, moist and ripe. It is here that one can enjoy the delicious sukkari dates.
- 5th and last stage – 29 weeks (Dried Dates Tamar) – It is regarded to be the last stage of ripening. It is here that one can find Medjool, Ajwa and Saggae date.
The final three ripening stages takes pale as dates are collected, fumigated, thoroughly cleaned and separated, before being packaged and ready to be sold in the market. Yellow clusters are Barhi dates which are found generally in grocery stores, being a bit astringent and crispy as they are in Khalal stage.