Submitted to: Proceedings International Conference on Date Palms
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 15, 2001
Publication Date: June 15, 2001
Citation: KRUEGER, R. DATE PALM GERMPLASM: OVERVIEW AND UTILIZATION IN THE USA. PROCEEDINGS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON DATE PALMS. 2001. Interpretive Summary: Genetic resources are important for the long-term health of crop-based agriculture. Germplasm accessions may supply genes for disease-resistance, cold-tolerance, soil-adaptation, etc. Date palms (Phoenix dactylifera) are one of the oldest crops to be exploited by man. Consequently, their genetic base is narrower than for many other crops, although some diversity does exist. There are approximately 12 other Phoenix spp which are endemic to southern Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean region. These may also provide sources for useful genes for date palms. In the US, the date palm is an introduced crop. Development of the date industry in the US was based upon identification of appropriate varieties through evaluation of the performance of different genotypes under the specific environmental conditions of the southwestern US. In addition, identification of genotype-specific metaxenic effects was exploited. A breeding program was conducted by the US Dept of Agriculture at the US Date and Citrus Station in Indio. This program produced several hybrid females and a series of back-crossed male lines that may be useful in future breeding efforts. These varieties as well as commercial cultivars, superior local males, and some other types are now maintained by the National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Citrus & Dates, headquartered in Riverside, California.
Technical Abstract: The date palm is one of the oldest domesticated crops. Utilization in the Middle East resulted in many local varieties that represent genetic diversity. Conservation of this genetic diversity is imperative. Date palm germplasm and this evaluation made possible the development of the date industry in the USA. Workers in the USA also developed local seedling varieties, identified superior local males, and conducted a breeding program to produce back-crossed males and intervarietal hybrids. Other Phoenix species are briefly discussed.