It's the first of April and soon the Palmeros and workers will be up in the trees to start the thinning process. What is the thinning process and exactly what does it do for the cultivation of Medjool dates? Well have you ever wonder just how Medjool Dates get so massive and vary in size? The thinning process is the key element to those soft juicy Jumbo Medjool dates you all love.
There is a correlation between the quantity of branches on a date palm and just how many fruit pods will be present. This correlation is a result of the amount of nutrients that a date palm can produce to the fruit pods. Under perfect conditions the ratio is 24/1. The typical Medjool date palm will have around 24 stems (96 branches) that can produce dates. At the end of each stem is a date pod or date cluster. These pods will produce stems that have fruit bearing flowers on them. At the end of these flowers are date clusters. It's estimated that on average a strand will contain over 5,000 baby sized dates. And the preferred target number is around 700 or so dates. That's about 4,200 baby medjools that will need to be removed from each stem. As you can imagine the time it takes to thin a whole tree with 24 pods is daunting.
Medjool Date Palm Stems
A well-seasoned Palmero can thin roughly 5-8 date palms a day. When thinned, a stem's target goal is right around 10lbs of fully grown medjools. This can vary of course, but for the sake of simple math... with 24 pods thats right around 240lbs per tree, per harvest. The older a date palm gets, the more fruit it will be able to bear. The height of a medjool palm is what prevents it from being harvested. They simply get too tall to safely harvest the dates. If these pods go onto grow without the manual thinning process, the date palms will over produce a mass amount of smaller dates and overtime the production of the dates will deteriorate. It's critical that growers find a balance when thinning their crops. If too much thinning happens, the amount of dates will increase, but the quality and size of dates will suffer. It takes years of being in the trees to produce the highest quality medjool date and still be able to maintain ample production per tree.
Medjool Date Pods
Usually May and June are the thinning months. And as you can imagine the time and commitment to grow such pristine large medjool dates is a painstaking one. Growing juicy jumbo fresh dates is extremely labor intensive and the thinning process is just one of many stages in a Medjool dates life. This process is also unique to just Medjools. Dates like Deglet Noors are hardly ever thinned if at all due to the results not yielding the size and quality improvement seen in Medjool crops. The amount of sweat equity that goes into growing medjool dates is truly remarkable. This sweat equity is also why Medjool Dates demand such a premium on price.