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For The Garden

My date palm has never produced dates

Author: Kelly Young
Issue: August, 2017, Page 107

ASK THE EXPERTS

Q - In the seven years we have lived in Arizona, our date palm has never produced dates. Every year, it has flowering stalks but no dates. The plant appears to be healthy otherwise. What could we be doing wrong?

A - There’s a good chance you aren’t doing anything wrong. I can think of three reasons that you aren’t getting fruits. First, your plant isn’t actually an edible date palm (Phoenix dactylifera). Other palms, such as the queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana), or sago (Cycas revoluta) have similar foliage but do not produce edible fruits. Second, you have the right species, but yours is a male date palm, which only produces pollen. Dates only grow on female plants. When the flowering stalk, called the spathe, emerges next spring, notice the color of the flowers. Male date palms produce waxy, white flowers whereas female flowers are greenish-yellow. Finally, you may have a female plant that isn’t getting adequately pollinated by a male plant. Commercial date growers hand-pollinate their plants to ensure abundant production of the fleshy, sweet fruits. You can purchase date pollen online and hand-pollinate your tree yourself.
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