Farmsoft Date Plantation Farm Software delivers exceptional control, management, and accountability including best practices to the date farming enterprise.

99% less fresh produce packing waste

Accurate fresh produce & food inventory management reduces waste through better FIFO stock rotation, stock-takes, and inventory alerts. RFID pallet control (optional) for precision inventory tracking. 

Save time packing fruit & vegetables

Increase the efficiency of fresh produce inventory using options like scanning incoming bar-codes to reduce data entry & errors, integrate with scales for automatic weighing, ore RFID for automatic fresh produce inventory tracking.

Better fresh produce quality control

Guarantee the quality of your fresh produce packing with flexible fresh QC testing systems from your phone or tablet. Customer feedback management, supplier quality control and more...

Reduce fresh produce packing errors & control production

Project required inventory (and shortages), schedule orders to be packed in batches , automatic alerts to prodution line managers.

100% accurate fresh produce order shipping

Shipping teams are guided through the dispatch process from picking using a phone or tablet (optional bar-code scanning), automatic picking, thru bill of lading, invoice, and automatic shipping notifications for customers, transport, and sales teams.

Reduce fresh produce packing administration costs by 40%

Automatic generation of fresh produce labels, bill of lading, invoice, picking documents and more; reduces administrative burden.

Easy audit & recall systems reduces compliance costs.

Faster fresh produce inventory storage  inventory

Accurate fresh produce & food inventory management delivers reduced waste and increased employee productivity. Manage FIFO, improve stock-take accuracy, scan harvester data, and keep a watchful eye on your inventory... Easy stock-take identifies shrinkage and helps reduce waste from ageing. 

100% accurate fresh produce traceability

Maintain strict fresh produce traceability and high food safety standards always. Perform recalls based on lot/batch, pack date, invoice #, inventory #, pallet #, delivery date, purchase order #, or perform a recall on your own user defined data. Perform instant recalls both up and down the supply chain. Makes audits easy and instant. COVID-19 food safety & auditing available. 

Reduce fresh produce waste by 99%

Inventory control ensures there is no 'shrinkage', food inventory is FIFO managed, and expiring inventory always monitored.

Reduce administration time by 60%

Automatic paperwork, labels, and reporting reduces the burden on administration teams and saves everyone's time.

Better fresh produce quality now

Quality control and food safety has never been easier with industry standard quality tests, food safety checklists; or configure your own tests. 

100% accurate orders!

Guarantee only the correct inventory is shipped for each order, on time, every time.

Farmsoft Date Plantation Farm Software delivers exceptional control, management, and accountability including best practices to the date farming enterprise.

Farmsoft fresh produce packing app is for fruit & vegetable packer, processor, import/export.  Full fresh produce traceability, auditing, inventory control, and fresh produce business management app.

Quality inspection for fresh produce

Consistent and accurate quality control ensures higher customer satisfaction and adherence to industry, de-facto, and in-house quality control standards. Track supplier quality performance, customer feedback & complaints, create QC tests for any part of the fresh produce & food manufacturing process (incoming goods, raw materials, finished goods, expiry test, export/shipping tests), daily factory hygiene, machinery calibration, employee checklists... 

Fresh produce logistics

Manage orders, pack to order, picking and auto picking, dispatch & shipping process. Generate invoices, bill of lading, pick slips, export documentation and other sales documents... Dispatch teams are guided through the dispatch process ensuring every order is filled perfectly, and on time. Paperwork such as BOL, freight documents, export documents are automatically generated based on the customer and destination to guarantee no rejected shipments or issues at borders.

Fresh produce labels

Generate fresh produce SSCC pallet labels, GS1 case & PTI labels, bin labels, batch labels, traded unit labels, harvest labels and more. Use the built in industry standard labels for Walmart, Woolworths, Aldi, Tesco, Loblaws etc - or design your own with the built in label & report designer. Our team can design all of your fresh produce documents to ensure farmsoft matches your requirements perfectly.

Fresh produce packing control

Sales, Quality, Profit, Dispatch, Pack, Farm...... Dashboards for sales teams provide instant impressions of customer orders and current inventory levels. The dispatch dashboard helps plan shipments, order of loading, and transport companies & drivers... The Profit analysis dashboard shows margins per unit and most profitable customers. Use our API to access your data however you like.

Fresh produce batch packing

Project required raw materials needed to pack/manufacture orders, potential shortages, schedule multiple orders to be packed in batches on selected production lines with a few clicks, automatically send new job alerts to managers, schedule additional harvests, analyze outstanding orders. Manage entire packing and manufacturing process with ease.

Fresh produce alerts monitoring

Automatic alerts for shipments can be sent to customers, transport providers, or even team members. Every time a batch is finished processing, receive an alert with the pack-out breakdown and percentages of grades & quality and waste. Alerts can include simple shipment notifications, or even invoices and original order details. Other alerts include order changes/modifications, yield reports, new order alerts, and low inventory alerts... 

Farm app option

Implement the farmsoft Farm Management suite to provide a comprehensive integrated business management solution from seed to plate. Includes automatic task management, best practices, budgeting, farm inventory, PHI enforcement, audits, residue reporting, USDA reporting, dashboards, recalls and more... 

Fresh produce supplier quality control

Suppliers must know that your business is measuring and tracking their performance. Any trends that effect the quality of fresh produce can be quickly detected, automatically traced back to the fresh produce supplier (especially if a result of a customer complaint / feedback), management and purchasing teams are automatically alerted when a supplier quality issue happens. Quantify your suppliers quality using the Supplier Quality Dashboard. 

Fresh produce finance apps

Share data with your Xero finance app, Quickbooks, MYOB, SAGE, using our API, or request our team perform a custom integration for your fresh produce company. This is an optional module, please ask your consultant for additional details and discuss your specific requirements, additional costs will apply for integration with your chosen finance app. 

Fresh produce RFID

Automatic tracking of each pallet’s exact location. Makes loading orders accurate and easy, stops errors during shipping. Very low costs to setup your hardware using farmsoft’s innovative RFID for fresh produce solution. Pallets put onto truck are auto added to order, and checked for accuracy. Pick up a pallet and its RFID instantly selected. Add pallet/bin to production line and its auto added to batch for traceability.

Fresh produce API

Integrate with virtually any other app or software solution using the farmsoft API. It's open! Anyone can use it. Your in house I.T. team, or any external I.T. vendor you want to help you with integration. Add your own reports, extract special data, or even create new interfaces between farmsoft and any app such as accounting, payroll, B2B, B2C. Other integration in farmsoft includes the ability to integrate with selected weigh scales to capture fresh produce net delivery weights.

Fresh produce bloch-chain

Increase customer confidence and prove the credentials of your traceability integrity and transparency with block-chain ledger technology.   We use the blockchain solution. (Optional module not included with standard Packing / Food Manufacturing ERP solution).

Improve fresh produce production planning

Efficient management customer orders, and the ability to analyze orders gives you new production planning tolls in farmsoft. Ensure each order is filled to exact specifications, on time, every time. Increase customer satisfaction and retention, and reduce stress in the packhouse with confident production planning using work orders/batch orders, sales contracts, sales orders, and sales order items. Are you manufactruing or processing chili products? Try farmsoft for chili processing. 

Accurate fresh produce traceability

Quality officers are guided through the quality control process, presented with images and instructions for each test, ensuring they know what to look for at all times, corrective actions are presented if a quality issue is detected. This makes training new fresh produce quality control officers fast, and ensures consistency in the quality control management processes for incoming fresh produce, post pack/post processing, storage, and dispatch. 

Efficient use of fresh produce cold stores

Maximize your cold store use and rotation of stock using farmsoft's pallet maps, and precision traceability tracking with expiring inventory reminders.
Cold store management software for fruit importers, exporters, packers, cross docking, and short and long term fruit storage.

Farmsoft Date Plantation Farm Software delivers exceptional control, management, and accountability including best practices to the date farming enterprise.

The farmsoft inventory control app provides business wide quality management inspection systems for fresh produce, food manufacturing, seed processing, meat packing & processing, and flower packing.

Tesco food safety compliance food packers
Tesco food safety compliance for food manufacturers, packers, import, export, wholesale.  Tesco customers expect us to only sell products made to the highest quality and that are responsibly sourced. They trust us to ensure that all our products are safe and comply with all the applicable laws and regulations.

Within Tesco we have a number of highly skilled teams and colleagues across the globe that are dedicated to ensuring our customer expectations are not only met but exceeded. They manage the quality of products from the original product concept right through to our stores and customers.
Although this page is based on our UK business, a similar approach is taken across our international markets whilst ensuring all legal and cultural differences are acknowledged and catered for.  Through understanding customers and their needs, product and market trends our expert team of developers work hard to bring great quality, innovative and value for money products to the market; our dedicated team of food researchers and chefs constantly review food trends and bring new food ideas to life to meet those customer needs.
Fresh Produce Bar Code Scanning

Fresh produce bar code scanning in agriculture easily delivers improved traceability in the fruit boxing and fresh produce packing space.  The FarmSoft team has add new features to the FarmSoft packhouse mobile (smart phone, iphone, tablets, and PDA’s) interfaces and new interfaces for in line bar-code scanning to allow rapid recording of packed fruit and vegetable via bar-code systems. Implement FarmSoft to make your fresh produce fruit packing easier and more efficient. FarmSoft delivers bar code scanning for packing sheds, packhouses, and fruit packers, exporters, importers and wholesalers.

FarmSoft fresh produce bar code scanning allows users to choose from a mobile interface that allows smartphones and PDA devices to scan boxed and packed fresh produce to record pallet contents. Fresh produce inventory and stock management with bar code systems ensures traceability and accuracy. FarmSoft’s bar code software for pack sheds makes fresh produce inventory control easy.

Bar-code traceability

FarmSoft bar code traceability is rapid to implement, and easy to maintain. Implementing FarmSoft bar code traceability for fresh produce processing delivers increased accuracy of traceability, easy inventory management, and can result in reduced fresh produce waste.
FarmSoft bar code traceability provides multiple fruit labeling solutions which can be tailored to meet client inventory handling requirements.
Bar code traceability
FarmSoft bar code traceability provides a comprehensive fruit traceability system for packhouses, pack sheds, and fruit and vegetable processors. FarmSoft bar code traceability makes fresh produce inventory handling easy! Contact FarmSoft today to receive these benefits.
Case level traceability

Case level traceability brings fresh produce processors, packers, and marketers easy and rapid traceability. Implement FarmSoft in no time at all, and start reducing processing waste!  Easy to deploy, farmsoft case level traceability is the best friend of any company looking to improve traceability in their food / fresh produce processing enterprise. Farmsoft delivers tangible improvements in food safety compliance and standards maintenance. Implementing farmsoft case level traceability for fresh produce processing delivers increased accuracy of traceability, easy inventory management, and can result in reduced fresh produce waste.

Farm to fork traceability for reliable food safety and best handling practices for fresh produce – while reducing waste and increasing efficiency!  FarmSoft’s farm to fork traceability solution delivers bullet proof fresh produce traceability management in every way. FarmSoft’s farm to fork traceability solution channels staff through the correct farming and fresh produce handling processes ensuring maximum food safety and traceability is being maintained at all times.

Combine both FarmSoft Farm Software AND FarmSoft Fruit Packing Software to create a complete farm to fork traceability solution.
In addition to the traceability features of FarmSoft, the system also provides a comprehensive fresh produce business management suite that takes care of every section of your business including: quality control, invoice, dispatch, sales, contracts, staff labor, packing labor, packhouse reporting and more.

Fresh Produce Traceability India – FarmSoft’s fresh produce management software brings new levels of traceability and efficiency to Indian farming and fresh produce packing, processing, and exporting.  FarmSoft guides users through the fresh produce handling procedures to ensure the safest, highest quality fruit and vegetables with minimum waste. From quality control, waste analysis, to fresh produce labeling – FarmSoft delivers for professional fruit and vegetable processors and packers. Download FarmSoft’s Fresh Produce Traceability India specifications here.

FarmSoft India
Professionally manage and monitor all post harvest processes including quality control, storage, inventory, sorting, grading, washing, packing, sales, invoice, and dispatch.

Farmsoft Date Plantation Software delivers exceptional control, management, and accountability including best practices to the date farming enterprise.

The farmsoft team has been busy developing new features to cater for date palm plantations and date farming. The farmsoft Date Plantation Software covers both farming and processing and drying of dates, and is available in English, Arabic, French, German, Indonesian, Malaysian, and other languages. Download the date plantation farming software specifications, or view sample date plantation farming reports.

Contact your nearest farmsoft date plantation software expert to discuss how to improve profit, traceability, and yield.
Date Plantation Software
Date Plantation Software
The farmsoft team has recently upgraded the farmsoft Date Plantation Management software and farmsoft Packhouse Management solutions with new features specifically designed for Date Palm Plantation farming and stone fruit, processing, grading, sorting, and packing.

Date farmers using the farmsoft Date Plantation software can see improvements in business wide profitability through better management of farming activities, higher traceability, and strict cost control and reporting.

Date packers and processors can improve date processing traceability, efficiency, and reduce shrinkage by implementing the farmsoft Packhouse Management suite. The packhouse management suite offers Date Palm packers inventory control, labeling, batch management, storage management, fresh produce sales, fresh produce traceability, fresh produce dispatch and invoicing, packing management, and full packhouse reporting for packing costs and packhouse labor.

Phoenix dactylifera, commonly known as date or date palm,[2] is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit called dates. The species is widely cultivated across northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, and is naturalized in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.[3][4][5] P. dactylifera is the type species of genus Phoenix, which contains 12–19 species of wild date palms.[6]

Date trees typically reach about 21–23 metres (69–75 ft) in height,[7] growing singly or forming a clump with several stems from a single root system. Date fruits (dates) are oval-cylindrical, 3 to 7 centimetres (1 to 3 in) long, and about 2.5 centimetres (1 in) in diameter, with colour ranging from bright red to bright yellow, depending on variety. Containing 61–68 percent sugar by mass when dried,[8] dates are very sweet and are enjoyed as desserts on their own or within confections.

Dates have been cultivated in the Middle East and the Indus Valley for thousands of years. There is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in Arabia from the 6th millennium BCE. The total annual world production of dates amounts to 8.5 million metric tons, countries of the Middle East and North Africa being the largest producers and consumers.[9]

Using GIS and remote sensing tools, the current dissertation shows the impact of agricultural mutation in drylands and highlights the effect of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) plantations (DPP) on desertification phenomenon in oases of the Algerian Sahara Desert. The spatiotemporal survey was conducted using three Landsat satellite images (TM-1984, ETM+-1999, and OLI-2013). Likelihood supervised classification was used to quantify DPP change over three decades, whereas four remote sensed indices were extracted as indicators of desertification process in the study area: Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Normalized Difference Moisture Index (NDMI), Salinity Index (SI-T), and Crust Index (CI). Generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) were applied to test the effects of year and DPP ‘presence/absence’ for NDVI; year, DPP and NDVI for both CI and NDMI; year, DPP, NDVI and NDMI for SI-T. DPP area and tree numbers quadrupled over the last three decades with a surface increase of 4822 ha and more than 0.5 million trees. DPP presence positively influenced NDVI, NDMI and CI, but negatively affected SI-T. Highly significant positive relationships were found between NDVI—DPP, NDVI—NDMI, and NDVI—CI, although negative relationships were obtained between SI-T—NDVI and SI-T—NDMI. DPP areas indicated higher NDVI, NDMI and CI values, but with lower SI-T values compared to the rest of the desert habitats. Our results highlighted the potential role of DPP in controlling and mitigating desertification in hot drylands. This arises from the effectiveness of strategic agricultural policy programs. Landsat series data provided a cost-efficient tool for monitoring change in oases and arid environments.

Date plantation software for better yield, traceability, and profits. Talk to one of our experts today!

Can palm date plantations and oasification be used as a proxy to fight sustainably against desertification and sand encroachment in hot drylands?
Contact your nearest farmsoft date plantation software expert to discuss how to improve profit, traceability, and yield.
Farmsoft can be used by both organic, and in-organic farmers. Date palms have been cultivated for a very long time because of its edible fruit called the ‘date’. The tree is between 15m and 25m high. It has long leaves that look like feathers. Such leaves are called pinnate. The leaves can grow to 3-5 metres in length. The leaves have visible spines. There are about 150 leaflets. Each leaflet can be up to 30 cm in length and 2cm in breadth. The full span of the crown of the tree is 6 to 10 metres. The date palm has one or more trunks, that all come from a single system of roots.

To find out how Farmsoft Date Plantation Management software can bring new benefits to your date farming and processing company, please contact a Tenacious Systems consultant now.

The botanical name of the date palm, Phoenix dactylifera L., is presumably derived from a Phoenician name "phoenix", which means date palm, and "dactylifera" derived from a Greek word "daktulos" meaning a finger, illustrating the fruit's form (Linné, 1734).

Another source refers this botanical name to the legendary Egyptian bird, "Phoenix", which lived to be 500 years old, and cast itself into a fire from which it rose with renewed growth (Pliny, 1489; Van Zyl, 1983). This resemblance to the date palm, which can also re-grow after fire damage, makes the bird and the date palm share this name, while "dactylifera" originates from the Hebrew word "dachel" which describes the fruit's shape (Popenoe, 1938).

2. Systematic distribution
Belonging to the Angiosperms-Monocotyledones, Palmaceae is a family of about 200 genera and 1, 500 species (Dowson, 1982). Phoenix (Coryphoideae Phoeniceae) is one of the genera which contains a dozen species, all native to the tropical or subtropical regions of Africa or Southern Asia, including Phoenix dactylifera L. (Munier, 1973). According to Dransfield and Uhl, (1986) date palm is classified as follows:

Besides date palm, five of the above species bear edible fruit (P. atlantica chev., P. reclinata Jacq., P. farinifera Roxb., P. humilis Royle., and P. acaulis Roxb.).

Most of the 12 Phoenix species are well known as ornamentals, the most highly valued is P. canariensis Chabeaud, commonly called the Canary Island Palm. P. sylvestris Roxb. is widely used in India as a source of sugar. P. dactylifera L. is distinguished from the above two species by several characteristics which could be summarised as follows:

- production of offshoots;

- tall, columnar and relatively thick trunk. If the crown of fronds is included, the date palm could reach a height of over 20 m (Blatter, 1926); and

- dark green leaves, (instead of the shiny green colour of the two other species).

Close relationship among the 12 species is illustrated by the ease of hybridisation and cross-pollination (Moore, 1963; Munier, 1973). Several natural hybrids were hence obtained: P. dactylifera X. P. sylvestris (India); P. dactylifera × P. canariensis (Morocco, Algeria and Israel); P. dactylifera × P. reclinata (Senegal).

Phoenix dactylifera L. has 36 chromosomes (n = 18; 2n = 36) (Beal, 1937), but polyploidy cases were reported by Al- Salih and Al Najjar (1987) with Iraqui date varieties (2n = 64). The same authors reported differences between varieties: Sayer as an early variety (2n = 32) and Khasab, a late variety (2n=36). Furthermore, in both varieties, aneuploidy and euploidy were observed: (Sayer: 32, 34, 36 and 64 and Khasab: 32 and 36).

3. Botanical description
3.1 Vegetative organs

3.1.1 Root system

Being a monocotyledon, date palm has no tap root. Its root system is fasciculated and roots are fibrous, similar to a maize plant. Secondary roots appear on the primary root which develop directly from the seed. These secondary roots produce lateral roots (tertiary roots and so on) of the same type with approximately the same diameter throughout their length.

The date palm root morphology and distribution are illustrated in Table 1.

Date palm root morphology and distribution

Roots Order



Average length (m)

Average diameter (mm)



Trunk base


4 (up to 10)

9.5 (7-12.5)

- vertical
- adventitious
- no root hair
- conic tip
- called auxirhyzes and also main roots


Primary roots

Similar to primary roots

0.20 - 0.25


- called mesorhyzes


Secondary roots

Similar to secondary roots but thin


0.3 - 1.5

- Low growth
- short and
- abundant called brachyrhizes

All date palm roots present pneumatics, which are respiratory organs. Roots are found as far as 25 m from the palm and deeper than 6 m, but 85 percent of the roots are distributed in the zone of 2 m deep and 2 m on both lateral sides in a deep loamy soil (Munier, 1973). It is worth mentioning that date roots can withstand wet soil for many months, but if such conditions spread over longer periods, they become harmful to the health of the roots and to fruit production. Figure 1 diagrammatically shows a date palm's construction with its root system.

From Figure 1, it is clear that the date palm root system is divided into four zones (Oihabi, 1991):

- Zone I, called respiratory zone: It is localised at the palm base's surrounding area with no more than 25 cm depth and a lateral distribution of a maximum of 0.5 m away from the stipe. Found in this zone are mainly roots of primary and secondary nature. Most of these roots have a negative geotropism and play a respiratory role.

- Zone II, called nutritional zone: It is a large zone and contains the highest proportion of primary and secondary roots. It could contain 1000 roots per m² and more than 1.60 gm of roots/100 gm soil (Oihabi, 1991). They develop between 0.90 and 1.50 m depth and could laterally be found outside of the projection of the tree's canopy. In the case of Deglet Nour variety, lateral roots were found up to 10.5 m from the trunk (Bliss, 1944). Recently planted offshoots develop their roots at zone II then at zone III. At one year old, they could reach 1 m, while 3 m depth is easily reached at the second year.

- Zone III, called absorbing zone: The importance of this zone is dependent on the type of culture and on the depth of underground water. It is usually found at a depth of 1.5 to 1.8 m. Mostly primary roots with a decreasing density from top to bottom are found here. The density of this zone is lower than in zone II - only about 200 roots are found per m².

- Zone IV: The largest portion of this zone is dependent on underground water. At a shallower depth, it becomes difficult to distinguish between Zone III and Zone IV as both types of roots are found here. When the underground water is deep, roots of this zone could reach a greater depth. They usually are presented as vaissels with a positive geotropism.

In conclusion, the root type and distribution illustrate the role of the date palm. The lack of roots in the top soil allows other cultures such as wheat, lucerne and vegetables to be inter-cropped. While, the high concentration and deep presence of primary roots allows the date palm to benefit from underground moisture and consequently, unlike most fruit palms, resist water stress and drought conditions.

Date palm root development and distribution depends on soil characteristics, type of culture, depth of the underground water and variety.

3.1.2 Trunk

The date palm trunk, also called stem or stipe is vertical, cylindrical and columnar of the same girth all the way up. The girth does not increase once the canopy of fronds has fully developed. It is brown in colour, lignified and without any ramification (Figure 1). Its average circumference is about 1 to 1.10 m.

The trunk is composed of tough, fibrous vascular bundles cemented together in a matrix of cellular tissue which is much lignified near the outer part of the trunk. Being a monocotyledon, date palm does not have a cambium layer.

The trunk is covered for several years with the bases of the old dry fronds, making it rough, but with age these bases weather and the trunk becomes smoother with visible cicatrices of these bases. Vertical growth of date palm is ensured by its terminal bud, called phyllophor, and its height could reach 20 metres.

Horizontal or lateral growth is ensured by an extra fascicular cambium which soon disappears, and which results in a constant and uniform trunk width during the palm's entire life. However, the terminal bud could experience an abnormal growth caused by a nutritional deficiency, which leads to shrinkage of the trunk. This stage is mainly caused by drought conditions.

Sometimes date palms show a branching phenomenon (Figure 2) which was studied by Zaid (1987) and found to be attributed to several causes. The author's findings are summarised as follows:

- Branching in date palm is a result of either dichotomy, axillary bud development, polyembryony or attack by a disease.

- Branched date palms are fertile and can produce as much fruit as a single headed palm.

- There is a need of an analysis of the vascular system of branched date palm by cinematographic techniques. This anatomical study is necessary to show the continuity of growth from the single to the divided state of the shoot.

- It is necessary to study in vitro the regenerating capacity of divided portions of the apical meristem and axillary buds of these specimens in the hope of establishing a rapid mass propagation technique for date palm.

3.1.3 Leaves

Depending on variety, age of a palm and environmental conditions, leaves of a date palm are 3 to 6 m long (4 m average) and have a normal life of 3 to 7 years. The greatest width of the frond midrib attains 0.5 m, but elsewhere it is only half this size and rapidly narrows from the base upwards. The frond midrib or petiole is relatively triangular in cross section with two lateral angles and one dorsal. It is bare of spines for a short distance but full of spines on both sides thereafter. (Figures 3, 10 and 14). Intermediate zones have spine-like leaflets, also called leaflet-like spines.

At the tip of the leaf, there may be a single terminal leaflet or two leaflets forming a V (Figure 3). Leaf structure is variety and environment dependent, but usually the whole length of a frond has the following proportions:

- The distance from the fibre at the base of the frond to the base of the spine-leaflets is about 28 % of the whole frond;

- The spine-leaflets occupy about 4 %;

- The leaflets occupy about 62 %; and

- The terminal leaflets occupy about 6 %.

All these characteristics coupled with others, are used as a taxonomical index to differentiate between varieties. Unlike other fruit trees, dead or old leaves are not shed and do not drop on their own, but are removed under cultivation.

An adult date palm has approximately 100 to 125 green leaves with an annual formation of 10 to 26 new leaves. The functional value of the leaf to the palm declines with age and no two leaves are the same age. Furthermore, leaves which are four years old are only about 65 percent as efficient in photosynthesis per unit area, compared to leaves of one year old (Nixon and Wedding, 1956). Under good cultural conditions a leaf can support the production of 1 to 1.5 kg of dates.

Depending on their position in the palm's canopy, leaves could be divided into 3 categories:

- On the outside, leaves are green and photosynthically active;
- At the centre, fast growing green leaves;
- On the inside, at the palm's heart, juvenile leaves, not yet photosynthetic with a white colour.

On average, there are 40 % of juvenile leaves, 10 % fast growing leaves and 50 % photosynthetic leaves.

Leaves are grouped in 13 nearly vertical columns, spiralling slightly to the left on some palms and to the right on others. The grower must only count the number of leaves in one of these columns and multiply it by 13 (Figure 4). According to Nixon and Carpenter (1978) and in order to allow for uneven pruning at the base, counts could be made on opposite sides and divided by two. This technique will allow the grower to calculate the total number of leaves on the palm. A ratio of 8 leaves per fruit bunch will indicate how many bunches to leave on that palm.

Leaves of seedling date plants are characterised by a slightly developed petiole and a juvenile leaf which develops during the first three years after seed germination (Figure 5). These leaves are also called primordia, non-pinnae or entire leaves. Adult leaves are pinnate and arise, in a flattish ascending spiral, from buds produced by the apical growing point.

At the base of each leaf, there is an axillary bud which could yield an inflorescence at the palm's top level or an offshoot at its base. According to Bouguedoura (1982), there are three distinct development phases:

- Juvenile phase which is sterile and leads the palm to produce more inflorescence buds than vegetative ones, which will abort very soon.

- Second phase called vegetative, where vegetative and flowering buds are produced in equal numbers; however, vegetative buds are the ones which develop.

- Third phase, usually after the palm is more than 10 years old, where most of the buds produced are flowering ones.

3.1.4 Fibre, spines and leaflets

As well described by Dowson (1982), the base of the frond is a sheath encircling the palm. This sheath consists of white connective tissue ramified by vascular bundles. As the frond grows upwards, the connective tissue largely disappears leaving the dried, and now brown, vascular bundles as a band of tough, rough fibre attached to the lateral edges of the lower part of the midribs of the fronds and ensheathing the trunk. Varieties differ in the height to which the fibre grows up the central column of unopened fronds, and in the texture of the fibre and also somewhat in colour.

Spines, also called thorns, vary from a few cm to 24 cm in length and from a few mm to 1 cm in thickness. They are differentially arranged on the two outer edges of the fronds while their number varies from 10 to about 60. Spines can be single, in groups of two, or in groups of three.

Leaflets or pinnae are between 120 to 240 per frond, entirely lanceolate, folded longitudinally and oblically attached to the petiole. Their length ranges from 15 to over 100 cm and in width from 1 to 6.3 cm. Their arrangement depends on variety and could be in groups of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 pinnae (Figure 14).

3.2 Reproductive organs

Date palm is a dioecious species with male and female flowers being produced in clusters on separate palms. These flowering clusters are produced with axils of leaves of the previous year's growth. In rare cases both pistillate and staminate flowers are produced on the same spike while the presence of hermaphrodite flowers in the inflorescence has also been reported (Mason, 1915; Milne, 1918). Palms which carry both unisexual and hermaphrodite flowers are known as polygamous.

The unisexual flowers are pistillate (female) and staminate (male) in character; they are borne in a big cluster (inflorescence) called spadix or spike, which consists of a central stem called rachis and several strands or spikelets (usually 50 - 150 lateral branches); (Figures 6a, b and 7a, b).

3.2.1 Inflorescences/Flowers

The inflorescence, also called flower cluster, in its early stages is enclosed in a hard covering/envelope known as spathe which splits open as the flowers mature exposing the entire inflorescence for pollination purposes (Figure 8). The spathe protects the delicate flowers from being shrivelled up by the intense heat until these are mature and ready to perform their function. The spathe at the beginning is greenish, becoming brown when near splitting - splitting is longitudinal. The male spathes are shorter and wider than the female ones. Each spikelet carries a large number of tiny flowers as many as 8,000 to 10,000 in female and more in male inflorescence (Chandler, 1958). The annual number of spathes born by a palm varies from none to about 25 in females and to even more in males, but the average is a dozen for females and more for males.

The male inflorescence is crowded at the end of the rachis, while branches of the inflorescence of the female cluster are less densely crowded at the end of the rachis. These characteristics allow the recognition of the inflorescence's sex before its opening (Figure 8). The male flower is sweet-scented and normally has six stamens, surrounded by waxy scale-like petals and sepals (3 each). Each stamen is composed of two little yellowish pollen sacs.

The female flower has a diameter of about 3 to 4 mm and has rudimentary stamens and three carpels closely pressed together and the ovary is superior (hypogynous). The three sepals and three petals are united together so that only tips diverge. On opening the female flowers show more yellow colour while the male ones show white colour dust, produced on shaking. The pollen sacs usually open within an hour or two after the bursting of the spathe.

Only one ovule per flower is fertilised, leading to the development of one carpel which in turn gives a fruit called a date; the other ovules aborted. The aborted carpels persist as two brown spots in the calyx of ripe fruits.

3.2.2 Fruit

Depending on the variety, environmental conditions and the technical care given (fertilisation, pollination, thinning,...), fruit characteristics vary tremendously. Table 2 illustrates this variation:

The date fruit is a single, oblong, terette, one-seeded berry, with a terminal stigma, a fleshy pericarp and a membranous endocarp (between the seed and the flesh) (Figure 9).

3.2.3 Seed

As with the fruit, seed characteristics vary according to variety, environmental and growing conditions. A seed's weight could range from less than 0.5 g to about 4 g, in length from about 12 to 36 mm and in breadth from 6 to 13 mm. (Figure 9). The seed is usually oblong, ventrally grooved, with a small embryo, and with a hard endosperm made of a cellulose deposit on the inside of the cell walls.

3.2.4 Variety description

Date varieties have been developed by thousands of years of selection of seedlings and only those possessing desirable characteristics have been propagated. Date palm counts for more than 3,000 varieties all around the world. There are about 400 in Iran, 370 in Iraq, 250 in Tunisia, 244 in Morocco, as well as many additional varieties in the other major date growing countries.

Several date specialists attempted to list and to botanically describe the varieties grown in their respective countries. Table 3 illustrates this effort in botanical description of date palm varieties.

In the present document, the authors decided to include an updated variety description of the two renowned varieties, Medjool and Barhee, which have a high marketing potential.

The aim of this description is to present these two varieties in such a way that the date grower will become fully familiarised with their main characteristics. The study was based on 20 random date fruits of each variety.

Medjool variety

Synonyms: Mejhool, Medjoul, Majhoul, Majul, Medjhool, Medjehuel, Majhol and Me-jool.

Meaning: (Arabic); referring to its origin: Unknown

History: Originally from Morocco (Tafilalet area) where it was the principal export date since the 17th century and was sold in a fancy gift box for Christmas in Paris, Madrid and London, but largely introduced into the new world of date culture: USA (1927) and Israel (1934).

Distinguishing characteristics: Medium size trunk, short to medium leaves which are organised with little curvature. Has a high fruit quality (large size and attractive). It outshines all other varieties with regard to fruit quality and size. It is of high commercial value and is considered date No. 1 for export market.


Palm: Leaves are short to medium (3.5-3.8m), about 1m shorter than Deglet Nour and Barhee with a slight curvature. Dark green at early age then change to yellow with brown strips at the middle.

Trunk: Narrow to medium diameter.

Leaf bases: Average in size with light and inconspicuous scurf on edges.

Spines: 30 to 35 in number, thick and significantly developed at the base, 1/4 of the leaf's length; usually in 2's and sometimes in 3's (Figure 10). Lower spine's length from 5 to 10 cm and the upper ones from 15 to 20 cm.

Pinnae: Straight but could be found curved to the middle; a taller pinnae (70 to 80 cm × 2.5 to 4 cm); width (36 to 54 × 4.5 to 5.0 cm). On the outer centre side of the leaf they are open fl at to 160° - 180°, and on the inner side to 50° to 90°. At the end of the leaf, the pinnae are at 45° on both inner and outer sides. At the base of the leaf, the pinnae start at 50° opening to 90°. Along the length of the leaf, pinnae protrude at various angles (45° to 180°), in a unique formation, specific to Medjool.

Inflorescence: Short orange base with a large number of spikelets each with 50 to 60 flowers.

Fruitstalk: Orange-yellow in colour; short to medium size but thick; a wax cover is usually found at its lower half. The fruitstalk with its short length, if not properly supported, could be broken when bearing heavily.

Fruit: Very large (20 to 40 gram) and elongated - broadly oblong oval to somewhat ovate (5cm long by 3.2cm in diameter). Irregularities in shape are common and are associated with ridges on the seed. Yellow-orange with clear dark red strips at Khalal stage. Amber at Rutab and transparent dark brown to black at Tamar (ripe) (Figure 11). Mature fruit colour is related to the climate and growing conditions. Covered with a waxy structure.

The skin is irregularly wrinkled, shiny at the peak and dull at the lower part. Skin is medium thick and tender, tied to the flesh, but at tamar stage it shrinks; thickness of the flesh: ± 5 to 7 mm with little fibre. Flesh is firm, meaty and thick, brownish amber, translucent with practically no fibre around the seed. Taste is excellent, sweet, but not concentrated.

Seed: Walnut - Brown shiny colour darker at the end, 1.5 gram. Seedling canal is closed approximately 50 % of the seed diameter with small wrinkles. On each side of the seed there is a protrusion forming a "wing shape" that is typical of Medjool and different from all other varieties.

Fruit defects: Two main non- pathogenic defects are typical to Medjool:

a) Loose skin: During drying, on the palm and after picking, as the flesh looses water, the skin tends to separate from the flesh. Loose skin is mainly the result of growing and habitat conditions. It is not affected much by the naturally or artificially drying process. Loose skin is an aesthetic defect rather than a taste defect and fruit with more than 20 to 25 % loose skin are graded as Class II.

b) Sugar crystallising: A common problem with loose skin fruit, mainly where the skin is broken, is that aromatic sugar crystals are formed on the flesh and under loose skin. Sugar crystallising is more common in fruit with high moisture content at harvest. Again this is an aesthetic defect that will categorise the fruit as Class II.

Pests and Fungi: During drying, many fruits fall from the bunch without the calyx, leaving a hole at the base of the fruit before drying is completed. Through this hole, fermenting beetles and fungi enter the fruit and that causes the fruit to sour. A slow drying process results in a higher level of fruit spoiling.

Special treatment in Medjool

Fruit size

To achieve large and jumbo sizes, the number of fruits per spikelet and bunch and the yield per palm must be monitored by the grower. Depending on the overall growing conditions the following is suggested:

Yield per palm: 80 - 120 kg
Number of spikelets per bunch: 25 - 35
Number of fruits per spikelet: 5 - 10

Reducing the number of fruits per spikelet could be achieved by:

1. Non- effective pollination.

2. Decreasing the number of fruit setting from flowers by chemical spraying (not advised).

3. Hand thinning. The best results are still by hand thinning when the fruit is at 1 to 1.5 cm in size.


- It is estimated that in 1996 100,000 Medjool palms, half in USA and half in Israel, supplied the world market with 1,000 tons of Medjool fruit.

- All the Medjool palms in the world, have originated from one palm in Bou Denib (Morocco).

- Medjool is an early ripening variety.

- Although classified as a soft date, Medjool is firmer than varieties like Barhee and Khadrawy.

- Very little damage from rain. Fruit quality however, is very sensitive to temperature and humidity. Both low and high extremes are not suitable for achieving high quality fruits.

- Extra heavy thinning is required to obtain a high value commercial fruit.

- Easily produces 20 to 25 offshoots per palm.

- In Israel Namibia RSA and USA the Medjool and Barhee superficies are increasing annually (Figures 12 and 13).

Barhee variety

Synonyms: Barhi, Berhi, Birhi.

Meaning: Uncertain (Arabic)

History: Barhee originates from Basrash Iiraq). Inroduced into the USA by Popenoe (1913); also found in Egypt and Israel.

Distinguishing Characteristics: Heavy trunk of a medium height, moderately curved green leaves, slightly drooping pinnae. The palm has a dusty greenish colour and looks dense and spherical. The fruit is broadly ovate round with relatively no astringency or objectionable tannin flavour at Khalal stage.


Palm: Leaves light elm green with a heavy whitish bloom: Sometimes the trunk has a slight curvature near the apex caused by the weight of a heavy crop. Leaf is long and wide. Blade length about 380 to 415 cm. Maximum leaf width reaches 70 cm. Leaf stalk is wide and strong.

Leaf bases: Broad, green leaves with old ones slightly narrow on edges. Sparse scurf on edges, extending along rachis into lower blade.

Spines: 28 to 36 in number and cover approximately 1/5 of the leaf. Are short and thin; length from 2 to 4 cm; below to 8 or 12 cm; above slender to medium heavy; rachis angle about 15° to 40° (Figure 14). 3/4 of spines are by pair but also found arranged in a group of 3 - 5 on each side of the stalk. Above these, there are 5 - 6 separated spines on each side, which are longer and thicker than the first.

Pinnae: Are relatively wide and crowded. Rather stiff with occasional slight to moderate drooping. Length: 60 to 72. Width: 4.5 to 5.2 cm. Grouping usually in 2's in lower blade with a few in 3's near midblade and above, very distinct near the apex.

Fruitstalk: Wide, long and heavy. It is deep green at bloom and becomes greenish yellow to orange yellow at the Khalal stage Slight to moderate scurf on lower portion. Fruitstalk length ± 150 cm, breadth and thickness immediately below fruiting head 64 × 26 mm. Length of fruiting head ± 55 cm. Strands are mid size and have the same colour as the fruitstalk. Number of strands differs from 90 to 140. Longest strand: ± 75 to 80 cm; breadth and thickness 3.7 × 3.0 mm; fruiting area ± 42 cm; number of flowers ± 45. Shortest strand: ± 35 cm; breadth and thickness 3.9 × 2.7 mm; fruiting area ± 26 cm; number of flowers ± 42.

Bunches: Wide, mid length and heavy with a lot of strands (up to 140 per bunch).

Fruit: Khalal colour is opaque yellow (± apricot yellow to near antimony yellow) internal colour of the bunch is pale; while rutab is amber (raw sienna to amber brown) and becomes very soft and can be easily separated from the skin. Develops into a golden brown colour in the early tamar stage (ripe). The fruit is medium sized. Shape broadly ovate to somewhat rounded (egg-shaped), commonly with a wedge shaped taper from middle to bluntly pointed apex. Calyx flattened and a little submerged, rounded-triangular, usually with 1 to 3 slight breaks in margin. Small fruit length (± 32.5 mm) with a big diameter (± 25.4 mm); size ± 32 to 37 × 23 to 30 mm. Fruit of thinned bunches may be about 31 mm long and 27 mm wide (length to width ratio is about 1:15). Medium weight (± 15 - 20g). Flavour rich and delicate with a low total soluble solids (± 30 %); Flesh is thick and juicy. At rutab stage, the fruit is very sweet. At tamar stage skin is completely separated from the flesh, except around the calyx. The skin is greyish yellow and the flesh loses its transparency and turns into bright to dark brown (Figure 15).

Seed: The seed fills the whole volume of the seed cavity. Light brown to wood brown; oblong, slightly wider above middle, somewhat tapering to the blunt apex. It is short and wide, (18 to 23 × 8.4 to 10.5 mm). Germ pore central or nearly so and can be clearly seen at the centre of seed's dorsal side. Furrow commonly medium in width and depth. Light seed weight (± 0.88g) and a high pulp: seed ratio (± 12.75) (Figure 15).


- Barhee is a medium to late fruit ripening variety.

- Yield of Barhee variety is high, reaching up to 500 kg per palm (in Israel) with an average of 200 kg per palm.

- The fruit at Khalal stage has an excellent flavour, with little astringency, distinguishing it from all other date varieties.

- The fruit is more subject to checking and splitting than that of other varieties.

- Checking is mostly longitudinal lines from middle to apex. The skin could be a little tough and this texture is accentuated by over thinning.

- At the tamar stage, ripe fruits are so soft and the bunches so dense that it is heavily damaged by rain.

- Offshoots production is low (usually only 3 - 5 per palm) but offshoots are large and vigorous for their age. Palms originated from tissue culture bear many more offshoots (up to 10 or even more).

- Barhee palm and offshoots are sensitive to frost (Barhee palms were severely damaged by the 1937 frost in the USA).

- In Iraq, Israel, as well as in international commerce, Barhee is marketed and consumed only as fresh fruit on strands, at the Khalal stage.

3.2.5 Growth and development stages of date palm fruit

The growth and development of date palm fruit involves several external and internal changes. These changes are often classified on the basis of change in colour and chemical composition of the fruit, as five (5) distinct stages of fruit development, known as Hababouk, Kimri, Khalal, Rutab and Tamar.

These terms are Arabic and have been internationally used by various authors including American and Israeli date growers. There are no equivalent English words.


Synonyms: Habbabok, Hababauk.

Starts soon after fertilisation and continues until the beginning of the kimri stage. It usually takes four to five weeks to complete and is characterised by the loss of two unfertilised carpels; a very slow growth rate is another characteristic. Fruit at this stage is immature and is completely covered by the calyx and only the sharp end of the ovary is visible. Its average weight is one gram and the size is about that of a pea.


Synonyms: Khimri, Jimri, also called green stage.

At this stage the fruit is quite hard, the colour is apple green and it is not suitable for eating. This stage lasts from a small green berry to an almost full sized green date (Figure 16). It is the longest stage of growth and development of dates and lasts a total of nine to fourteen weeks, depending on varieties.

During the first 4 to 5 weeks, there is an average relative weekly growth of 90 %, while during the second period of kimri stage there is only about 22 % growth.

The first phase is characterised by a rapid increase in weight and volume, rapid accumulation of reducing sugars, low but increasing rate of accumulation of total sugars and total solids, highest active acidity, high moisture content though slightly less than that of the second phase.


Synonyms: Khalaal, called also colour stage.

The fruit is physiologically mature, hard ripe and the colour changes completely from green to greenish yellow, yellow, pink, red or scarlet depending on the variety. It lasts three to five weeks depending on varieties, with a low average relative weekly increase in fruit weight (3 to 4 %). At the end of this stage, date fruit reaches its maximum weight and size, but sugar concentration (saccharose), total sugar and active acidity have a rapid increase associated with a decrease in water content (around 50-85 % moisture content). It is to be noted that date fruit accumulate most of their sugar, both the sucrose type and the reducing sugar type, as sucrose during the Khalal stage (Table 4). At this stage colour of the seed changes at the end from white to brown.

Some varieties such as Barhee, Hallawi, Hayani and Zaghloul are consumed in this stage, as they are very sweet, juicy and fibrous but not sour. However, Khalal dates must be eaten immediately after harvesting as they will keep for only a few days without cold storage (7°C for one week or 0-1 °C for longer periods) due to their high sugar and water content which cause fermentation during hot weather. If supply and demand are in equilibrium, the Khalal season will last for a couple of weeks.

Varieties harvested and marketed at Khalal stage present the following advantages: minimum infestation, possibility of cutting the whole bunch, easy handling and packing, high yield and consequently high income.


Synonyms: Routab; meaning wet. Also called soft ripe stage.

At this stage the tip at the apex starts ripening, changes in colour to brown or black and becomes soft. It begins to lose its astringency and starts acquiring a darker and less attractive colour from the previous stage. However, some varieties such as Khadraoui (Iraq) and Bousekri (Morocco) turn green at this stage.

At this stage, which in total lasts for 2 to 4 weeks, there is a continuous decrease in fresh fruit weight mainly due to loss of moisture (Table 5). The average weekly decrease in fresh fruit weight is 10 % during the last week of the rutab stage.

An increase in reducing sugar, a rapidly increasing rate of conversion of sucrose, a gain of total sugars and total solids also characterise this stage. It has already been observed in respect of the reducing sugar type date, i.e. Barhee, that all the sucrose accumulated during the previous, Khalal stage, inverts and there is a continuous decrease in active acidity and decrease also in moisture content (average 30 - 45 %). With softening, the last of the tannin under the skin is precipitated in an insoluble form, so that the fruit loses any astringency that may have remained in the Khalal stage from the Kimri stage.

It is a very good stage for consumption as a hard ripe date. With the exception of a few varieties, fruit at this stage is very sweet. It is, however, very important to harvest and market the fruit at this stage. Unless they are cold stored, the fruits quickly turn sour and become of no commercial value. For dessert purposes, most people prefer dates after they have passed the Rutab stage.


Synonyms: Tamer, Tamr, also called full ripe stage or final stage in the ripening.

This is the stage when the dates are fully ripe, and they completely change the colour from yellow to dull brown or almost black. The texture of the flesh is soft. The skin in most varieties adheres to the flesh, and wrinkles as the flesh shrinks. The colour of the skin and of the underlying flesh darkens with time.

At this stage, the date contains the maximum total solids and has lost most of its water to such an extent (below 25 % down to 10 % and less) that it makes the sugar water proportion sufficiently high to prevent fermentation. This is the best condition for storage. The average relative decrease in fruit weight during this stage is 35 %. The loss in fruit weight continues if fruits are left on the palm. This stage is equivalent to that of the raisin in the grape and the dried prune in the prune type of plum.

At the Tamar stage, the fruits on a bunch do not all ripen simultaneously, but over almost a month. Hence, three to four harvest times are necessary.


- Dates in all the above stages except the Tamar are perishable, due to their high water content.

- Whole dates are harvested and marketed at three stages of their development (Khalal, Rutab and Tamar) depending on variety, climatic conditions and market demand.

Main changes in the composition of the Californian Barhee during development

Figure 1. Diagrammatic construction of a date palm with its root system

(Source: Munier, 1973 and Oihabi, 1991)

Figure 2. A young dichotomously branched date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) at Afechtal grove (Marrakesh, Morocco).

Figure 3. Date palm leaf characteristics.

Figure 4. Date palm leaves grouped in 13 columns, spiralling to the right or to the left.

Figure 5. Various development stages of a date palm seedling of Deglet Nour variety.

(Source: Dowson, 1982)

Figure 6a. Date palm male flowers (Source: Dowson, 1982).

A. Spikelet

B. Flower: 6 stamens, 3 petals, and three-toothed calyx. Most of the flowers have 3 petals but a few have 4.

C. Stamen: Length about 4 mm.

Figure 6b. Date palm male inflorescence 4 days after opening.

Figure 7a. Date palm female flowers (Source: Dowson, 1982).

A.& B Two (short) spikes
From different palms of the Burunsi variety

B. Four days after emergence from spathe

C. Unpollinated flower showing two of the three petals, the three-toothed calyx, and three unfertilized carpels.

D. Unpollinated flower: Vertical section six days after emergence from spathe.

Figure 7b. Female inflorescence of a seeding date palm 3 days after opening.

Figure 8. Date palm male and female inflorescences and flowers.

(Source: Munier, 1973)

Figure 9. Morphology and anatomy of date palm fruit and seed.

Figure 10. Lower section of a Medjool leaf showing spines and leaflets characteristics and distribution

Figure 11. Medjool samples showing fruit and seed characteristics

Figure 12. Commercial plantation of Medjool in Namibia (Naute Dam, March 1997)

Figure 13. First Barhee dates produced in Namibia (April, 1997)

Figure 14. Lower section of leaves showing spine characteristics of five commercial date varieties: A - Barhee; B - Dayri; C - Deglet Nour; E - Halawy

Figure 15. Barhee samples (Khalal stage) showing fruit and seed characteristics

Figure 16. Fruit Kimri stage of Barhee variety