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  • DatesPosted 3 years ago under Uncategorized

    Dates are a versatile and delicious fruit. Eaten plain, stuffed, or used in a recipe, dates provide a wide variety of nutritional benefits. One use that is growing in popularity is substituting date sugar (finely ground dehydrated dates) for other sweeteners in recipes. (1) Dates provide a healthy source of energy and are packed with vital nutrients.

    Taxonomy

    Dates come from the Phoenix dactylifera tree.

    Kingdom (Plantae) → Angiosperms → Monocots → Commelinids → Order (Arecales) → Family (Arecaceae) → Genus (Phoenix) → Species (Phoenix dactylifera)

    Description

    The date palm tree is a large tree that can reach heights of over 70 feet. The leaves can reach twenty feet long and are pinnate, or palm frond type of leaf that are green in color with grayish tones. The date palm tree has small yellow flowers. The edible berry of the tree is the dates which grow to a few inches in length and can range in color from yellow to red or brown when fully ripe. Each date contains a single seed, or stone. (2) The color is dependent on the variety of date.

    Distribution

    Dates originated in North Africa but are grown in abundance in the Middle East, India, and other places with similar climates. Dates thrive in warm and dry climates. If the climate is too hot or humid, the date palms will still produce dates but at a lower yield. (3)

    Nutritional Information

    Dates are rich in a number of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Their natural sugars are more easily assimilated by the body. They have good levels of vitamins B5 and B6 as well as vitamin K. They are a great source of minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, and copper. Dates are also known to contain tannins, an important antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. (4)

    Commercial Cultivation

    Date palms are not self-pollinating and so require female and male trees to be planted near one another for cross-pollination. To grow commercially, it is best to plant cutting or saplings of other date palm trees to insure that female and male trees are both planted. These trees are slow to produce fruit, taking four to eight years before any dates are produced. For a date palm tree to produce a commercially viable amount of dates, it can take up to ten years. (5) Typically, the trees are harvested multiple times a year as the dates grow and ripen at different rates on the tree. The top three producers worldwide of dates are Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

    Diseases, Pests, Predators

    Date palms are susceptible to different fungal infections and pests. The main fungal infection that has threatened to wipe out large crops is Bayoud disease, which starts by attacking the leaves and slowly kills the plant. Major pests include the white scale, red scale, and the red palm beetle as well. (6)

    (1) http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/healthy-sugar-alternatives/
    (2) http://www.botanical-online.com/english/dates.htm
    (3) http://www.botanical-online.com/english/dates.htm
    (4) http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/dates.html
    (5) http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/y4360e/y4360e00.HTM
    (6) http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/y4360e/y4360e00.HTM

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