Grooming the palms

7 Jul, '06

Date Palm Grooming

Date Palm Grooming, originally uploaded by malyousif.

Every year summer brings its bounty, but to get it you need to take care of your palm tree otherwise either the birds will take all of the crop, or worse, it will just go bad.

I had three guys grooming my palm trees yesterday afternoon and they did a good job. We now have a freezer full of lovely “ghurra” mijnaz dates from just one tree. There are three more to go before the season is over!

One tree’s dates (the one that was completely harvested) has almost gone completely bad because it was left for too long without being harvested. The majority of the dates has turned wrinkly and brown. I wanted the regular Bahraini “palm tree expert” (called kharraf in Arabic) to come see to the trees, but he broke one promise after another and that went on for a month. The trees just couldn’t wait any longer so I had to get these guys who were more than ready and willing to do the job and do it properly.

One of my neighbours saw them at it and asked for them to go do his trees once they’re done with mine, so they got extra business yesterday afternoon. They charge BD5 ($13) per tree, just as the Bahraini charges as well. But these are three guys, and they clean up properly after them; the Bahraini unfortunately comes alone and “allows” you to clean up after him! I am sure that not all Bahraini Kharrafs are like this particular guy, but regardless, these new people are now in my addressbook and I shall forget that other guy…

Have a wonderful Friday!

update 19:18: I am now told that it is not the sought after ghurra that we harvested yesterday, but mijnaz which is not! At least not at this time of the season when an abundance of much nicer varieties like ghurra are available. Aparently all mijnaz is good for now is animal feed! It is eaten by people of course, but aparently traditionally it is only eaten immediately it is ripe as this type of date is the first to ripen, and as people are anxious to eat fresh dates, then it is regarded as “better than nothing.” I can see why people regard it as such; there is little flesh, has a large stone, and the flesh itself is a bit harsh. You learn something every day!

So the tally now is that I have four palm trees, each is of a different variety; I have a khawajah, a ghurra, a hallow and finally a mijnaz. I’ll let you know if I discover that I am wrong in their type once again, but I don’t think so so far.

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Comments (7)

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  1. Melody says:

    In the USA dates are sold for baking and pantry use as “dark and wrinkly”. That means most of us have never had a “good” date!

    Tell me about freezing…never heard of this method for date preservation.

    We are harvesting red raspberries from a small patch in our backyard garden this month. We net the bushes so the birds don’t steal the crop. Meanwhile neighbors and little fingers come by to help pick and sample the fruit…a communal patch.

    I love your gardening entries and photos, keep them coming.

  2. ByronB says:

    There’s a farm shop near Chertsey which sold some hard green dates two years ago – very different from the squashy sticky “Eatme” dates we used to get in a box every Christmas. I’ve been back looking for the green ones again but they just haven’t had any.

  3. mahmood says:

    Never had green dates before, unless they are the “pre dates” we call “khalal” and they are very tasty indeed (no stones, and a completely different taste), if however you eat unripe, green dates, you’re asking for a good stomach ache!

    As for the “wrinkly brown” description Melody, no, I didn’t explain it properly. The stuff you eat is processed dates and are called “tamur” and that is really good. It keeps for ages and you can make good syrup from them to use in your cooking etc. The ones I meant were the ones which have gone bad “on the bunch” and are useless for anyone but birds.

    Here’s more info on the Date Palm on wikipedia if you want to know more about it.

    I’ve just discovered another site which has classifications of dates in Arabic of each country’s production and species with pictures and rankings! If you don’t know Arabic, click on any country link on the right and you will get the pictures of dates at least. Bahrain’s link is the fifth down.

  4. sleepyinsaudi says:

    Mahmood, coincidently the dates are being “groomed ” as you say, right now on our compound. It’s pretty amazing to see these gardeners shimmy up the trees with their woven harness made of grass ?
    They cut down some of the date branches, but leave the rest. Is that so the remaining dates will ripen well? Or is it better for the trees if they leave some of the dates on?
    Any way, my husband and daughter went out to get some of the dates on the cut branches before sanitation hauled them off. I don’t know what kind they are, but the yellow ones were hard and inedible. The brown ones were sweet. The dark wrinkled ones were dry. It’s hard to imagine that such a useful crop could live in this oven of a climate.

  5. mahmood says:

    This oven of a climate is their very thing! The hotter it gets, the better and more bountiful the crop. I know, it flies against logic, but it is true.

    The grooming process is removing the bunches which are least promising, and limiting the number of remaining ones so that they would get the full attention of the tree to nurture them and get them to grow properly.

    We too had up to 12 bunches per tree, but now are left with probably 5 – 7 per tree. At the moment some are too small and it is too early to tell specifically if that grooming was actually good for them, but I’ll post again in 4 – 6 weeks with an update.

    At that time I’ll get the video camera out and shoot them as they shimmy and maybe interview one of these palm tree people. If they would let me.

  6. Anonymous says:

    so you hire free visa…..humm that’s a BD1000 fine on each if your’e caught.

  7. mahmood says:

    they should charge the royal court then, cause that’s where they came from! 😉

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