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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: THE FUTURE OF DATE PRODUCTION IN THE U.S.

Authors
item Abdul Baki, Aref
item Aslan, Sam - NRCS/USDA
item Cobb, Sam - NRCS/USDA
item Aguiar, Jose - UNIV CALIF COOP EXTENSION

Submitted to: International Journal of Horticultural Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 18, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: This report reviews the history of date production in the Coachella Valley, southwest California, the economic importance of date production to the Valley's agriculture, and the problems that date growers encounter. Date production in the U.S. is almost a century old. Over 90% of dates produced in the U.S. is grown in the Coachella Valley. The trees occupy 2282 hectares, yield 24,000 tons with an annual value of $62 million. Major problems that limit production were identified. They include soil stratification which reduces infiltration and root growth, soil salinity, and low soil fertility. Attempts to overcome these problems have been limited to deep slip plowing and excessive cultivation. We proposed an alternative farming system which uses deep rooted cover crops to reduce soil compaction, improve water infiltration, and increase the organic mater content of the soil. Users of this research are date growers, the U.S. date industry, and extension specialists.

Technical Abstract: We conducted a thorough investigation of the problems that limit date tree growth, yield, and fruit quality in the Coachella Valley, southwest California. The results of the investigation identified high soil stratification, poor water infiltration, and low soil fertility as the most serious problems. As a substitute for slip-plowing and cultivation, we recommended a no-tillage alternative farming system which uses deep-rooted legume cover crops (forage soybeans, cowpeas, and lana vetch) to fix nitrogen, improve water infiltration, and enrich the soil with organic matter. Several farmers started implementing this alternative system last year. However, it will take about two to three years for this system to start producing positive results.

Last Modified: 5/5/2015
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