The commercial date industry in the United States is located primarily in the Sonoran Desert of southeast California and southwest Arizona. The industry comprises about 3800 hectares, of which 78% is found in California and the rest in Arizona. While date palms were introduced to the United States by the Spaniards, small quantities were imported for experimental purposes beginning in the late 1800's, and commercial quantities were imported in the early 1900's. During this period, most imported offshoots originated from Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and Iraq. Important varieties that were imported include 'Deglet Noor', 'Khadrawi', 'Zahidi', 'Hayany' and 'Halawy'. More recently, the 'Medjool' from Morocco was introduced. This variety is becoming increasingly popular because of its large size and high sugar content. Date palm operations are moving from areas that are under pressure from urbanization to more remote locales. Low volume drip and microjet irrigation is beginning to replace the tradition flood and basin irrigation methods. Some dates are produced using organic methods because of consumer demand. Farm operations begin in January when the trees are dethorned. Operations that occur later in the year include pollination, training the fruit arms, strand thinning, fruit thinning, supporting the arms, spreading the strands, bagging the developing fruit and harvest. Individual growers are increasingly forming cooperatives to pack the fruit at a centrally located packinghouse. At the house, fruit are graded, then packed, and placed in storage until shipment. Dates from the region are marketed by individual growers, and by the grower cooperatives, and sold to customers around the world. Palm trees are also sold for landscape purposes to customers across the United States.
- 'Deglet Noor'
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