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  • Author or Editor: Sam Cobb x
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Approximately 90% of total date production in the U.S. is localized in the Coachella Valley, southwest California. The remainder is in the bordering Imperial Valley, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz. The date trees (Phoenix dactylifera L.) occupy 2282 ha, have an annual yield of 24,000 tons, and a product value of $62 million. Major varieties include `Deglet Noor', `Khadrawl', `Zahide', and `Majhool'. Although climatic requirements for date production prevail in the Valley, major problems related to soil and water have adverse effects on yield and fruit quality. These include water and soil salinity, high water table, high soil compaction and stratification, and low fertility. Slip plowing has been a recommended practice for decompacting the soil. However, soils get recompacted by machinery used in cultural operations. We recently introduced planting cover crops in a no-till system to improve soil fertility, reduce compaction, and improve drainage.

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The mineral concentration of bearing `Mejhool' date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) trees was investigated with the objective of identifying the cause of browning and dieback of distal parts of the fruit-bearing strands. Tissue analyses of leaves, fruits, healthy and dead portions of fruit-bearing strands indicated that tissue browning and dieback appeared to be associated with a high concentration of certain mineral elements. A comparison of mineral concentration between healthy and dead tissue of the fruit-bearing strands showed no significant increase in K, Cu, B, Zn, and Na, but very high increases in the concentrations of P, Ca, Mg, S, Mn, and Fe. The levels of P, Ca, Mg, S, Mn, and Fe in the distal part of the fruit-bearing strand over a 3-year average were 5, 18, 12, 3, 11, and 2 times, respectively, higher than those in the healthy, proximal part of the strand. Mineral concentrations of leaves and mature fruits were determined for comparison with those in fruit-bearing strands.

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