Yes. That is true. Female date palm trees need a male tree’s pollen in order to bear good fruit for harvest
Pollination is the act of transferring pollen (a dry powdery substance) collected from male date palm trees to the flower bunches produced by female date palm trees. Our Palmeros refer to this process as “chicharreando”. Male palm trees do not bear fruit. They only produce pollen seeds. After a successful pollination the females produce the date fruit. There are three methods used to pollinate date palm trees: by natural flow of wind, by hand, and by machine blowers. Our ranch farmers use the two most effective ways to pollinate our fruit, which are by hand and by machine blowers. We may pollinate each female tree up to two times.
Farmers know when the female flowers are ready for pollination based on color and whether they are opened or closed. An open green flower is ready, and brown closed flowers are not. Once the fruit flower has closed it can’t be pollinated. If the fruit is not pollinated it would not grow and would not ripen.
The Process of Collecting Pollen
Farmers wait for the protective shell surrounding the flowers of a male palm tree to open. When the shell is slightly open, the farmers tie them together with a cord and wait until ready to cut them entirely from the male trees. Then, our palmeros collect the cut flowers and take them where the pollen is going to be processed.
After the flowers are collected, the shell around them are removed and spread down to dry which can take up to 2 days. Once dry they are thrown into a machine where the pollen is extracted from the seeds.
Once extracted the pollen is transferred to giant sheets of papers and spread into a thin layer to dry for a day or two. Finally, after being fully dried the pollen is moved to containers then transferred to our ranches for our farmers to begin pollinating the female date trees.
Interesting Fact: One may use the pollen from a male date palm variety to pollinate females of many different varieties.
Pollen Flowers4 - 5 Flowers per Male Palm Tree
Green open/ Brown closed
Methods of Pollination
The pollination process can take up to two week making it the longest activity before harvest.
Palmeros use the two most effective pollination methods to pollinate our fruit: by hand, used for most date varieties; and by machine,
Pollination by hand becomes more challenging depending on the height of the palm trees. Palmeros need to climb up tall palm trees in order to pollinate by hand. Palmeros use paper bags and a hand pump filled with pollen powder. The bags are set in place to entirely cover each fruit bunch. The bags are securely tied from the end. Then a hole is made on the top of each bag to insert the hand pump and blow the pollen inside the bag.
Pollination by machine blower is totally different. The pollen is loaded onto a machine blower that blows the pollen up to 75 feet up in the air directed at the female flower bunches. There is no need to climb up trees. This process can pollinate many trees at a time making the pollination process fast. As pollen is blown up in the air this method can use up a lot of pollen and our farmers mix our pollen with another type of powder in order to conserve pollen.
Pollen application varies depending on the variety of date tree. For example, our Barhi palm trees have to be pollinated with 100% pollen meaning that the pollen can’t be mixed with something else like talcum powder.
Farmers always make sure to pollinate in the most effective way to ensure we have a good crop year.
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