Date crop on track for a good harvest

Date growers expect this year's crop to be close to the long term average, or slightly higher. The intense summer heat arrived earlier this year and despite some rain during June and July, growers are optimistic. Harvest is still over a month away though, and the weather between now and then will be influential on final crop numbers.

"It has been hotter than normal at the start of the year," said Doug Resh of Oasis Date Gardens in Thermal, California. "We experienced a little bit of wind and rain at times in June and July which caused a small amount of fruit drop, but not more than what we typically see each year. Usually we expect between one and five percent fruit drop and we are still well within that range at the moment. Last year at picking time we had rain and cooler weather, under the 100s, which resulted in a drop in final volume."

The major varieties are set to begin on time, with Medjool kicking off the season in mid September followed by Deglet Noor a few weeks after that. "The Medjool date crop yield is expected to be close to the average, or perhaps slightly increased," Resh noted. "Deglet have a similar outlook and will likely begin harvest in the first week of October. The harvest usually lasts for four to five weeks."

Black dates variety harder to come by
Aside from the Medjool and Deglet date varieties, Oasis Date Gardens also specializes in other date varieties that are harder to come by. One example is the Black Laflin, named after Ben Laflin who was a pioneer in the California date industry and began Oasis Date Gardens some 100 years ago. The Black Laflin is a black skinned date and is available in much smaller quantities than the Medjool and Deglet Noor dates.

"Oasis Date Gardens grows many exotic date varieties such as the Black Laflin and Black Beauty, which are rare variety and the result of cross-breeding over time," Resh observed. "In fact, 75 percent of the exotic varieties grown in the United States grow on our farm. Many of the black skinned dates are highly sought-after and usually sell out pretty quickly on our E-commerce site. There are about six or seven black date varieties that we grow."

Date demand growing
Suppliers have observed that demand for dates is steadily increasing. Predictions are for this year to see solid demand and subsequently higher prices than previous years. It will all depend though on final yield numbers.

"As demand is increasing, we expect prices this year to be higher than they have been," Resh shared. "Of course, this will be indicative of volumes and what the final crop produces. We love being in this industry and look forward to bringing quality dates for the season to our customers."

For more information:
Doug Resh
Oasis Date Gardens
Tel: +1 (800) 827-8017 Ext. 1

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