Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/19/2006
Publication Date: 4/1/2007
Citation: Krueger, R. 2007. History and current status of date palm (phoenix dactylifera l.) research in the usa. Acta Horticulturae. Interpretive Summary: The commercial introduction of date palms (Phoenix dactylifera) to the USA occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After the introduction, it was necessary to determine appropriate cultural practices for efficient production in US conditions. The bulk of this research from 1904 to 1982 was performed by USDA personnel stationed at the US Date Garden in Indio, California. Investigations were made into varietal development, breeding, irrigation, fertilization, pollination, thinning, and other areas. The University of California took the lead into pest and disease problems of date palms. Since the closing of the Date Station, research has continued at a lower level. The only USDA unit with a specific mandate to work with date palms is the National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Citrus & Dates in Riverside, California. The focus of this service unit is genetic resource conservation, but a limited number of investigations are made into genetics, mineral nutrition, and diseases. Other recent USDA efforts have focused on soil management. The UC is active in pest management research, particularly mites and the carob moth. There has been some collaborative work between USDA and UC in the area of genetic analysis.
Technical Abstract: In the USA, research into production practices for date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) began approximately 100 years ago. The principal agencies involved were the United States Department of Agriculture and the University of California. The majority of production research involving date palms was centered at the USDA Date Station, in Indio, California, which operated from 1907 to 1982. Research carried out at the Date Station included investigations into variety importation and improvement; irrigation; fertilization; pests and diseases management; and other cultural practices. Since the closing of the Date Station, there has been significantly less research in date palms in the USA. Current research centering around pest control is carried out by the University of California. USDA investigations have included research into cover crops and soil management. At the USDA-ARS National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Citrus & Dates in Riverside, California, efforts center around germplasm conservation, but various other investigations, some of them collaborative, in fertilization, genetics, etc., are carried out.