At the beginning of every harvest cycle during the first months of the year, our farmers (also called “Palmeros”) start to dethorn the date palm trees. Spines are removed from each side of the palm frond, one side first then the other, always starting from the bottom and down to the end of the frond. The process to dethorn each palm tree takes about 5 to 10 minutes to be completed. Date palm trees can grow 10 to 26 new palm fronds every year and are located at the top center of the palm tree.
To remove these spines, our palmeros use knives; usually a long sharp curved blade with a wooden handle. These tools are mostly brought from Zacatecas, Mexico, The knives from Mexico are more lightweight than the ones created in the USA making it easier for the palmeros to maneuver while cutting the thorns.
The palmeros use two different knives: one is slightly longer and used to cut unwanted palm fronds. The palmero makes a cut in the tail end of the frond, inserts the pointy end of the knife just above the cut, then pulls on the frond to detach and throw to the ground. The other shorter knife is used to dethorn the spines on the palms. It is important for the palmeros to carry sharp knives.
Date palm trees can reach more than 40ft. tall. To go up, farmers use a special ladder. The palmeros also sometimes use mechanical lifts. This ladder has a different top end. It has two metal parts closing in between the two with the end open so they can anchor on one of the palm fronds and lock it in.