The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), UC Riverside, United States Department of Agriculture/Agriculture Research Service (USDA/ARS), and the California Date Commission hosted a Date Field Day on February 15, 2017 at the UC Riverside Coachella Valley Agricultural Research Station. It was a full house that day, with approximately 55 Growers, farm managers, and other date stakeholders. The field day included a field research plot tour, lunch, and Continuing Education hours where available for attendees.
Robert Krueger, Citrus and date researcher Riverside USDA/ARS spoke about nitrogen assessment of date palms. He discussed diagnostic sampling implications, which suggest that there are differences in concentrations of various elements that occur in different portions of the leaf, and at different aged leaves can show different results, and also different seasons may also effect results. Based on the research it is suggested that the best sampling strategy is near khalal stage from middle pinnae of intermediate aged leaves during the summer.
Peggy Mauk, UCCE-UCR Subtropical Horticulture Specialist spoke about establishment of date palms: Tissue Culture vs Off-shoots.
Sonia Rios, UCCE Riverside/San Diego Counties Subtropical Horticulture Farm Advisor spoke about pest issues in date palm, more specifically about weevils . Date palms flourish in high summer temperatures and low humidity which creates a perfect breeding ground and living conditions for pest, especially for the Red palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) (RPW) and South American palm weevil (Rhynchophorus palmarum) (SAPW). The RPW is considered most destructive arthropod pest of palms world-wide. SAPW causes similar damage on smaller scale. Both larvae's can cause economic damage as they feed on palm near apical growing point causing damage, which weakness the tree, and eventually causes death. The SAPW has been eradicated, however the RPW has been slowly showing up in date species in California, threatening the date industry. (Weevil Photos: Mark Hoddle)
The California date industry is worth ~$68 million (NASS, 2015). In 2015, 43,600 tons of dates where harvested. Coachella Valley produces about 95% of the dates consumed in the US. Date palms flourish in high summer temperatures and low humidity climates, which permits their production to certain growing regions. There are many threats to this economically important commodity and the University of California Cooperative Extension and other agencies are committed to assure the date industry thrives locally and globally. The planning committee looks forward to next year's event.