Dates

Production, Processing, Food, and Medicinal Values

Edited by

A. Manickavasagan M. Mohamed Essa E. Sukumar

Medicinal and Aromatic Plants — Industrial Profiles

CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group 6000 Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300 Boca Raton, FL 33487-2742 © 2012 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC CRC Press is an imprint of Taylor & Francis Group, an Informa business No claim to original U.S. Government works Version Date: 20120302 International Standard Book Number-13: 978-1-4398-4947-7 (eBook - PDF) This book contains information obtained from authentic and highly regarded sources. Reasonable efforts have been made to publish reliable data and information, but the author and publisher cannot assume responsibility for the validity of all materials or the consequences of their use. The authors and publishers have attempted to trace the copyright holders of all material reproduced in this publication and apologize to copyright holders if permission to publish in this form has not been obtained. If any copyright material has not been acknowledged please write and let us know so we may rectify in any future reprint. Except as permitted under U.S. Copyright Law, no part of this book may be reprinted, reproduced, transmitted, or utilized in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying, microfilming, and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publishers. For permission to photocopy or use material electronically from this work, please access www.copyright.com (http:// www.copyright.com/) or contact the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. (CCC), 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, 978-750-8400. CCC is a not-for-profit organization that provides licenses and registration for a variety of users. For organizations that have been granted a photocopy license by the CCC, a separate system of payment has been arranged. Trademark Notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Visit the Taylor & Francis Web site at http://www.taylorandfrancis.com and the CRC Press Web site at http://www.crcpress.com

Contents
Prefacexi Editors xiii Contributors xv

Part I Production
Chapter 1 AnOverviewofDatePalm Production3 R. Al-Yahyai and A. Manickavasagan Chapter 2 TissueCultureStudiesin Date Palm 13 Sardar A. Farooq, Roohi S. Khan, and Talat T. Farook Chapter 3 TheDatePalmGenomeProjectintheKingdomof Saudi Arabia 29 Xiaowei Zhang, Jun Tan, Meng Yang, Yuxin Yin, Ibrahim S. Al-Mssallem, and Jun Yu Chapter 4 WaterManagementin Date PalmGroves 45 M. Mumtaz Khan and S. A. Prathapar Chapter 5 FertilizerApplicationinDatePalmCultivation 67 Ahmed Al-Busaidi Chapter 6 EnvironmentalConcernin DatePalmProductionfrom Atmospheric TraceMetalContamination 81 Salim H. Al-Rawahy and Hameed Sulaiman Chapter 7 SalinityProblemsand Their Managementin Date PalmProduction 87 Nazir Hussain, Salim Al-Rasbi, Nasser Salim Al-Wahaibi, Ghanum Abdul Rehman Al-Ghanum, and Osman El-Sharief Abdalla Chapter 8 DatePalmInsectandMitePestsandTheirManagement 113 Mohammad Ali Al-Deeb Chapter 9 MechanizationinDatePalm Pollination 129 Ahmad Mostaan

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Contents

Chapter 10 DesignConceptsforDate-HarvestingProcess 141 Hemantha P. W. Jayasuriya Chapter 11 DateMarketing 155  Msafiri Daudi Mbaga

Part II

Processing

Chapter 12 DryingCharacteristics,Rehydration,andColorChangesof PalmFruitsduring Storage 175 Kolawole O. Falade and Emmanuel S. Abbo Chapter 13 SolarTunnelDryer:ANovelDryerforDates 191 M. A. Basunia and H. H. Handali Chapter 14 ProcessingofDatesbyDehydrationandMicrowaveDrying 203 D. G. Rao, T. Hariharan, and S. Feroz Chapter 15 QualityAssessmentofDatesbyComputerVisionTechnology 217 A. Manickavasagan and R. Al-Yahyai Chapter 16 NonchemicalMethylBromideAlternativesinDates’ProcessingSector 227 Mohsen Ahmed El Mohandes Chapter 17 ProcessingofDatesintoValue-AddedProducts 255 P. Vijayanand and S. G. Kulkarni Chapter 18 ExploringthePossibilityofBiofuelProductionfromBy-Productsand Wastes GeneratedfromDateIndustry 265 D. Ramesh, S. Karthikeyan, and G. Chinnanchetty

Part III Food
Chapter 19 PhysicalCharacteristicsandChemicalCompositionofDatePalmFruits 277 Nejib Guizani and Vandita Singh Chapter 20 SorptionandStructuralCharacteristicsofDatePalmFruit 289 Mohammad Shafiur Rahman

Contents

ix

Chapter 21 FermentativeProductsUsingDatesasaSubstrate 305 Nallusamy Sivakumar Chapter 22 DatesasPotentialSubstituteforAddedSugarinFood 317 A. Manickavasagan Chapter 23 UseofDatePalmBy-ProductsinFeedingLivestock 323 O. Mahgoub, I. T. Kadim, and W. Al-Marzooqi

Part IV

Medicinal Values
Muhammad Qasim and Summar A. Naqvi

Chapter 24 Dates:AFruitfromHeaven 341

Chapter 25 TheFunctionalValuesofDates 351 Mohamed Ali Al-Farsi and Chang Yong Lee Chapter 26 NutritionalandMedicinalValueofDateFruit 361 Amanat Ali, Mostafa Waly, M. Mohamed Essa, and Sankar Devarajan Chapter 27 UsesofDatePalminAyurveda 377 M. Shanmugapriya and Kishor Patwardhan Chapter 28 DatesinIndigenousMedicinesofIndia 387 Ethirajan Sukumar Chapter 29 AntiamyloidogenicEffectofDatesGrowninOmanwithReferenceto Their Possible Protectionagainst Alzheimer’sDisease 397 M. Mohamed Essa, Gilles J. Guillemin, Samir Al-Adawi, Abdullah Al-Asmi, Ragini Vaishnav, Nandhagopal Ramachandiran, and Mustaq A. Memon Index405

Contributors
Emmanuel S. Abbo DepartmentofFoodTechnology KadunaPolytechnic Kaduna,Nigeria Osman El-Sharief Abdalla DepartmentofAgriculturalAffairs MinistryofEnvironment Doha,Qatar Samir Al-Adawi DepartmentofMedicine CollegeofMedicineand HealthSciences SultanQaboosUniversity AlKhoud,SultanateofOman Abdullah Al-Asmi DepartmentofMedicine CollegeofMedicineand HealthSciences SultanQaboosUniversity AlKoudh,SultanateofOman Ahmed Al-Busaidi DepartmentofSoils,WaterandAgricultural Engineering CollegeofAgriculturalandMarineSciences SultanQaboosUniversity AlKhoud,SultanateofOman Mohammad Ali Al-Deeb DepartmentofBiology UnitedArabEmiratesUniversity Al-Ain,UnitedArabEmirates Mohamed Ali Al-Farsi MinistryofAgriculture Muscat,SultanateofOman Ghanum Abdul Rehman Al-Ghanum DepartmentofAgriculturalAffairs MinistryofEnvironment Doha,Qatar Amanat Ali DepartmentofFoodScienceandNutrition CollegeofAgricultureandMarineSciences SultanQaboosUniversity AlKhoud,SultanateofOman W. Al-Marzooqi DepartmentofAnimalandVeterinary Sciences CollegeofAgriculturalandMarineSciences SultanQaboosUniversity AlKhoud,SultanateofOman Ibrahim S. Al-Mssallem DatePalmGenomeProject KingAbdul-AzizCityforScienceand Technology Riyadh,KingdomofSaudiArabia Salim Al-Rasbi AgriculturalResearchCenter Rumais,SultanateofOman Salim H. Al-Rawahy DepartmentofBiology CollegeofScience SultanQaboosUniversity AlKhoud,SultanateofOman Nasser Salim Al-Wahaibi AgriculturalResearchCenter Rumais,SultanateofOman R. Al-Yahyai DepartmentofCropSciences CollegeofAgriculturalandMarineSciences SultanQaboosUniversity AlKhoud,SultanateofOman M. A. Basunia DepartmentofSoils,WaterandAgricultural Engineering CollegeofAgriculturalandMarineSciences SultanQaboosUniversity AlKhoud,SultanateofOman

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CONTENTS

An Overview of Date Palm Production
R. Al-Yahyai and A. Manickavasagan

Introduction ........................................................................................................................................ 3 Biology of the Date Palm ................................................................................................................... 4 Botanical Description of Date Palm .................................................................................................. 4 Roots ............................................................................................................................................. 4 Trunk .............................................................................................................................................5 Leaves............................................................................................................................................ 5 Flowers .......................................................................................................................................... 5 Fruits ............................................................................................................................................. 6 Origin of Date Palm ........................................................................................................................... 6 Geographical Distribution of Date Palm ............................................................................................ 7 World Date Production and Trade...................................................................................................... 8 Date Palm Cultivation ........................................................................................................................ 9 Summary and Conclusions .............................................................................................................. 10 References ........................................................................................................................................ 10

INTRODUCTION
Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is the main fruit crop in arid and semiarid regions, particularly in the arid regions of western Asia and North Africa. The palm tree is well adapted to desert environments that are characterized by extreme temperatures and water shortage, both in quality and quantity, due to scarcity of rainfall. Beyond the arid climates, date palm can also be grown in many other countries for food or as an ornamental plant including the continents of Americas, southern Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The majority of date palm-growing areas are located in developing or underdeveloped countries where dates are considered the primary food crop, thus playing a major role in the nutritional status of these communities. By-products from date palm are used in building structures, animal feed, and also in several items such as baskets and ropes. The date palm tree that has been in cultivation since 2400 BC was praised and cherished as is evident from the drawings and sculptures of ancient civilizations of the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians, and later by the Greeks and the Romans that inhabited the Mediterranean basin where date palm and other Phoenix species are also commonly grown (Pruessner 1920). Date palm still carries great religious significance in all three major religions of the world. In Islam, date palm is cited 21 times in the Holy Quran and 300 times in the Hadith of the Prophet Mohammed, making it by far the most frequently cited plant. Similarly, date palm is praised in Christian and Judaism faiths and has been linked to numerous religious ceremonies such as Passover and Palm Sunday (Musselman 2007).

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Dates: Production, Processing, Food, and Medicinal Values

BIOLOGY OF THE DATE PALM
The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is an angiosperm monocotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Arecaceae (syn. Palmaceae) that includes 200 genera (Dowson 1982; Uhl and Dransfield 1987). The genus Phoenix contains 12 of the 1500 species that belong to the date palm family. Phoenix palms are dioecious and are characterized by pinnate leaves and in duplicate leaflets with acute tips (Uhl and Dransfield 1987). Besides date palm, the other two most highly valued Phoenix palms are Canary Island Palm (P. canariensis Chabeaud), an ornamental palm (Gilman and Watson 2006), and the Sugar Palm (P. sylvestris Roxb) that is common in the Indian subcontinent for its sugar syrup (Zaid and de Wet 2002). Date palm can be distinguished from the other two species by the production of offshoots and the dull glaucous leaves instead of glossy leaves. Date palm is a dioecious plant; that is, staminate (male) and pistillate (female) flowers are born on two different palms. There are thousands of male and female cultivars distributed throughout date palm-growing countries (Zaid and de Wet 2002). For example, in the Sultanate of Oman, there are over 200 female and 21 male cultivars (Al-Yahyai 2010). However, 75% of dates are produced only from 10 cultivars (Table 1.1). Date palm passport descriptors have been published by IPGRI to aid the characterization of date palm based on morphological and anatomical features (IPGRI et al. 2005). Using these characteristics, cultivars from Oman (Macki and Othman 1997), Saudi Arabia (Ministry of Agriculture 2006), and Algeria (Belguedj 2002), among others, have all been fully described. Zaid and de Wet (2002) provided a detailed description of Medjool and Barhee cultivars. In addition, fruit physical and chemical characteristics have also been used to describe and distinguish date palm cultivars (Jaradat and Zaid 2004; Al-Yahyai and Al-Khanjari 2008). Recently, molecular tools such as DNA fingerprinting techniques have also been utilized to describe and differentiate date palms in various parts of the world (Billotte et al. 2004; Cao and Chao 2002; Jubrael et al. 2005; Zehdi et al. 2004).

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION OF DATE PALM Roots
Date palm has a fasciculated fibrous root system that originates from a bulb at the trunk base. The primary roots have an average length of 4 m and may extend to 10 m in light soils. Primary roots

TABLE 1.1 Major Date Palm Varieties and Its Total Production in the Sultanate of Oman
Cultivars Um el Sela Mabsli Khasab Naghal Fardh Shahl Khunaizi Khalas Madloki Barni Total 2004 Yield (tons) 32,696.48 30,583.24 26,678.61 24,423.38 18,051.93 11,435.75 11,340.99 11,139.04 5,423.58 4,966.30 231,034.91 % of Total 14.15 13.24 11.55 10.57 7.81 4.95 4.91 4.82 2.35 2.15 Cumulative % 14.15 27.39 38.94 49.51 57.33 62.28 67.18 72.01 74.35 78.65

Source: Al-Yahyai, R. 2010. Proceedings of the International Conference on Date Palm Production and Processing Technology. Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. 09–11 May 2006, pp. 1–6.

An Overview of Date Palm Production

5

give rise to secondary roots that further branch to form tertiary roots that are shorter in length and diameter (Zaid and de Wet 2002). Primary roots originate from seeds but may also continue to grow if date palm is grown from an offshoot or a tissue-cultured seedling.

tRunk
The trunk or stripe of date palm is a single, vertical cylinder of equal diameter (average 1 m) throughout its length that can reach 30 m (Figure 1.1) (Zaid and de Wet 2002). The stem is covered with leaf bases that are enclosed in fiber, an evolutionary mechanism to protect the trunk from herbivorous insects and animals, as well as an insulation to reduce water loss. Water and nutrients are translocated via vascular tissue composed of tightly-stacked vascular bundles. The stem grows vertically at the terminal bud (phyllophor or phyllogen) and laterally via the fascicular cambium.

Leaves
Date palm leaves, called fronds, are pinnate, compound leaves spirally arranged around the trunk (Figure 1.1) (Uhl and Dransfield 1987). The fully mature leaf is 4 m long, but ranges from 3 to 6 m, and is 0.5 m wide at the middle midrib that narrows toward both leaf ends (Zaid and de Wet 2002). The date palm leaf is divided into three regions: the petiole, the spinal region that transitions into the blade region that is held by a geometrically shaped midrib. Angular leaflets are distributed in the blade region. The number of leaves produced annually varies from 10 to 26 and a mature palm may have from 100 to 125 leaves; 50% of them are photosynthetically active (Zaid and de Wet 2002). Leaves remain attached to the tree following their senescence and have to be manually pruned.

FLoweRs
Date palm is a dioecious plant where pistillate and staminate flowers are born on separate plants (Uhl and Dransfield 1987). Male and female flowers are arranged in strands that attach to a rachis forming an inflorescence called spadix. A bract, called spathe, enclosing the immature inflorescence, splits longitudinally at anthesis, which allows for the pollination of mature male and female flowers.

FIGURE 1.1

The pinnate leaves (fronds) and single stem (stipe) of the date palm.

6
1.600 Tanin concentration (%) 1.400 1.200 1.000 0.800 0.600 0.400 0.200 0.000 1.453

Dates: Production, Processing, Food, and Medicinal Values

0.508 0.060 Kimri Khalal Rutab

0.003 Tamar

FIGURE 1.2 Tannin concentration (%) in “khalas” dates at various maturity stages (Al-Yahyai, unpublished data).

FRuits
Fruits of date palm, called dates, develop from one fertilized ovule forming one carpel, while the other two ovules are aborted but remain visible at the fruit calyx. If no fertilization occurs, three or more carpels develop simultaneously. The date fruit develops on the flowering strands and is a berry characterized by a membranous endocarp surrounding a seed. Large variations exist in the shape, size, color, and chemical composition of date fruit (Zaid and de Wet 2002; Al-Yahyai and Kharusi 2011), depending largely on varietal differences but also on climate, soil, and growing conditions. Similarly, date seeds vary in size and shape, but they are generally ventrally grooved, oblong, and range from 5 to 15 mm with an embryo born in the middle of the seed that is surrounded by the endosperm. Following pollination and fertilization, date palm fruit grows through five distinct developmental stages characterized by physical and chemical changes at each stage. These stages are Hababouk, Kimri, Khalal, Rutab, and Tamar (Zaid and de Wet 2002). The Hababouk stage lasts 4–5 weeks after fruit set and is characterized by slow growth rate. The fruit is round and the color is cream to light green. The Kimri stage lasts 9–14 weeks and during this stage the fruit elongates and gains rapid development and increased weight, volume, and reducing sugars. The fruit at the Kimri stage is green and is marked by high tannin concentration that is reduced as the fruit develops (Figure 1.2). The Khalal stage, also known as Bisir, is when the fruit is physiologically mature and the color changes to the cultivar-specific color, usually various shades of red and yellow. This stage lasts 3–5 weeks and is marked by slow growth (3%–4% weight gain) to fruit full size and weight, and further accumulation of sugars. Several varieties with high sugars can be consumed either fresh or boiled at this stage. The Rutab stage is when the fruit apex starts to soften and the color changes to a darker color. Most dates are consumed fresh at this stage that lasts 2–4 weeks. Due to softening, dates at this stage lose water content to an average of 30%–45%, but sugars continue to accumulate. The Tamar stage is when the date palm fruit is fully ripe and has completely softened. The fruit color darkens at this stage, which is also marked by low moisture content (10%–25%) and high concentration of total sugars. This stage lasts 2–4 weeks and the dates are appropriate for long-term dry storage or processing.

ORIGIN OF DATE PALM
Date palm has been cultivated in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) for millennia; however, the exact origin of date palm has not been verified. Zaid and de Wet (2002) cited reports of its use in Mesopotamian times since 4000 BC (Popenoe 1973) and by the Egyptians perhaps during 3000–2000 BC (Danthine 1937). The African date palm (P. reclinata) or the Indian date palm (P. sylvestris) or both may have been the progenitor of date palm (Zaid and de Wet 2002).

An Overview of Date Palm Production

7

GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION OF DATE PALM
Date palm can be cultivated in all five continents of the world, largely between 39° northernmost and 20° southernmost latitudes. However, the main region of production is the Middle East and North Africa, where 89% of dates are produced (Figures 1.3 and 1.4). In recent years, there has been

FIGURE 1.3 (See color insert.) World map of date producing countries according to area distribution (shaded gray) and production quantity (columns).
(a)
120 100 80 60 40 20 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 0
Africa Imports Exports

Thousands Date quantity (tons)

800 600 400 200 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 0

World

Imports Exports

Thousands Date quantity (tons)

1000

Date production (tons)

ousands 1000 1200 1400

(b)

Egypt Iran Saudi Arabia UAE Pakistan Algeria Iraq Sudan Oman Libya China Tunisia Morocco Yemen Israel Mauritania Qatar Chad Niger USA

0

200

400

600

800

FIGURE 1.4 Imports and exports of dates (a) and leading date-producing countries (b). (Adapted from FAOSTAT. 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Available at: http://faostat.fao.org/. Accessed on September 1, 2010.)

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Dates: Production, Processing, Food, and Medicinal Values

a surge in the number of date palms planted in this region. The total number of date palms in the UAE, for example, has grown from 10 million in 1999 to 43 million palms in 2010. Similarly, the Sultanate of Oman is planning to add 1 million date palms by 2015. Large projects aimed at introducing date palm in dry areas that have poor resources, such as in Namibia and India, have influenced date palm distribution and expansion to new territories.

WORLD DATE PRODUCTION AND TRADE
Current world date production is 7.1 million tons as of 2008 (FAOSTAT 2010). Date exports and imports have been steadily increasing in the years since 2000 (Tables 1.2 and 1.3). Globally, date palm imports have surpassed exports in Europe, Americas, and Oceana, whereas in Africa and Asia, date trade has continued to rise simultaneously (Figure 1.5). There has been a considerable rise in the demand for dates in major date-importing countries including Morocco, the United Kingdom, and Russia (Table 1.3). This remarkable increase in date trade reflects the importance

TABLE 1.2 Leading Date-Exporting Countries
Country Iran Pakistan Tunisia Saudi Arabia UAE Iraq Algeria France Israel Oman 2007 Top 10 2007 Total 2007 Exports (tons) 242,092 104,090 68,856 48,762 38,691 37,063 25,039 10,470 9,513 9,368 593,944 625,439 % of Sum 38.7 16.6 11.0 7.8 6.2 5.9 4.0 1.7 1.5 1.5 95.0 Change (tons) from 2000 134,245 25,429 46,445 20,514 −183,339 7063 14,256 894 8184 −513 256,517 % Change (2000–2007) 55 24 67 42 −474 19 57 9 86 −5 43

TABLE 1.3 Leading Date-Importing Countries
Country India Morocco France Russia Pakistan Bangladesh Indonesia Malaysia UK Yemen 2007 Top 10 2007 Total 2007 Imports (tons) 253,341 50,473 27,439 22,375 19,777 18,546 15,549 15,346 14,357 13,136 450,339 629,773 % of Sum 40.2 8.0 4.4 3.6 3.1 2.9 2.5 2.4 2.3 2.1 71.5 Change (tons) from 2000 60,722 45,039 3,909 13,541 −9,770 1,046 2,233 4,188 3,927 549 125,384 % Change (2000–2007) 24 89 14 61 −49 6 14 27 27 4 28

An Overview of Date Palm Production
Thousands Date quantity (tons) Thousands Date quantity (tons) 20 15 10 5 0 America Imports Exports 120 100 80 60 40 20 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 0 Europe Imports Exports

9

700 600 500 400 300 200 100 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 0 Asia Imports Exports

Thousands Date quantity (tons)

Thousands Date quantity (tons)

800

10 8 6 4 2 2002 2004 2005 2006 2000 2001 2003 2007 0 Oceana

Imports Exports

FIGURE 1.5

Global and continental date palm imports and exports from 2000 to 2007.

of dates as a trading commodity in international markets. This is perhaps due to the increased awareness among consumers of the healthy constituents of dates, such as antioxidant contents (Mansouri et al. 2005; Al-Farsi et al. 2007), as well as the use of dates as a source of sugar and medicinal alcohol in many parts of the world.

DATE PALM CULTIVATION
Date palm thrives in areas characterized by hot, low humidity, particularly during fruit development. Moisture adversely affects the quality of fruit, as high humidity leads to fruit cracking and checking. Date palm can be planted in a wide range of soils with varying amounts of organic and mineral nutrients. Date palm is known to tolerate salinity more than any other cultivated fruit crop. Many parts of the world where date palm is grown still follow the traditional mixed planting of dates of various ages at irregular spacing. Moreover, inadequate fertilizer application and lack of proper tree and bunch management, such as pruning and fruit thinning, lead to the production of low fruit quality and thus lower market values. In Oman, for example, approximately 23% of the total dates produced are considered “surplus,” meaning that they are not accounted for in human consumption (51%), livestock feed (22%), or industrial processing and export (4%). This is despite the Sultanate’s production of over 230,000 tons of dates annually. Oman is ranked ninth in world date production (Figure 1.4), but exports only 2% of its total production (Al-Yahyai 2007), which makes up 1.5% of the total world date exports (Table 1.2).

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Dates: Production, Processing, Food, and Medicinal Values

Development of tissue-cultured date palms has led to further expansion of date orchards in many parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. However, the majority of date plantations still lack modern and appropriate solutions to issues related to cultural practices, such as hand pollination, water and fertilizer requirements, by-product development and utilization, proper harvesting time and methods, and postharvest transport and storage management. Several recent studies have addressed these issues and reported improved fruit yield and quality by following proper pre- and postharvest management of date palm tree and fruits (El Mardi et al. 2007; Al-Yahyai and Al-Kharusi 2010). Pest and disease management of date palm also needs considerable research attention. The most common pests of date palm in the Arabian Peninsula are Dubas bug (Ommatissus lybicus Bergevin, Homoptera: Tropiduchidae) and Red Palm Weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus Olivier, Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Chemical control of these pests has had limited success; however, a broader ban on pesticides and public demand for chemical-free dates will require alternative methods of pest management. Biochemical control of date palm pests has been shown to reduce pest populations (El-Sufty et al. 2007), but field application has many constraints, including traditional and poor tree and plantation management as noted earlier. Additionally, diseases caused mainly by phytoplasma and fungi, such as lethal yellowing and Bayoud Fusarium wilt, remain a threat to the date palmproducing regions of the world.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Date palm is one of the most important fruit crops in many parts of the world that are usually characterized by arid, high-temperature climate. Date commodity trade has been steadily rising in recent years, reflecting greater demand from all five continents of the world. Date palm constitutes a major source of food and its by-products can be utilized in a range of items from construction to clothing. This makes date palm an ideal crop for low-income countries, where poverty and hunger prevail.

REFERENCES
Al-Yahyai, R. 2007. Improvement of date palm production in the Sultanate of Oman. Acta Hort. 736:337–343. Al-Yahyai, R. 2010. Current status of date palm in the Sultanate of Oman. Proceedings of the International Conference on Date Palm Production and Processing Technology. Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. 09–11 May 2006, pp. 1–6. Al-Yahyai, R. and L. Al-Kharusi. 2011. Physical and chemical quality characteristics of freeze-stored dates. Int. J. Agr. Biol. (Accepted). Al-Yahyai, R. and S. Al-Khanjari. 2008. Biodiversity of date palm in the Sultanate of Oman. Afr. J. Agric. Res. 3(6):389–395. Al-Farsi, M., A. Morris, and M. Baron. 2007. Functional properties of Omani dates (L.). Acta Hort. 736:479–487. Belguedj, M. 2002. Charactéristiques des cultivars de dattiers dans les palmeraies du Sud-Est Algérien. Dossier No. 1. Les Ressources Génétiques du Palmier Dattier. Institut national de la Recherche Agronomique, d’Algérie. Billotte, N., N. Marseillac, P. Brottier, J.-L. Noyer, J.-P. Jacquemoud-Collet, C. Moreau, T. Couvreur, M.-H. Chevallier, J.-C. Pintaud, and A.-M. Risterucci. 2004. Nuclear microsatellite markers for the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.): Characterization and utility across the genus Phoenix and in other palm genera. Mol. Ecol. Notes 4:256–258. Cao, B.R. and C.T. Chao. 2002. Identification of date cultivars in California using AFLP markers. Hort. Sci. 37(6):966–968. Gilman, E. and D. Watson. 2006. Phoenix canariensis: Canary Island Date Palm. Bulletin ENH-598. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, FL.

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Danthine, H. 1937. Le palmier dattier et les arbres sacrés dans l’iconographie de l’asie occidentale anciènne. Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner, Paris, pp. 227. Dowson, V. H. W. 1982. Date production and protection with special reference to North Africa and the Near East. FAO Technical Bulletin No. 35, pp. 294. El Mardi, M., F. Al Said, C. Sakit, L. Al Kharusi, I. Al Rahbi, and K. Al Mahrazi. 2007. Effects of pollination method, fertilizer and mulch treatments on the physical and chemical characteristics of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) fruit. I: Physical characteristics. Acta Hort. 736:317–328. El-Sufty, R. S., A. Al-Awash, A. M. Amiri, A. S. Shahbad, A. H. Al Bathra, and S. A. Musa. 2007. Biological control of Red Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Col.: Curculionidae) by the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana in United Arab Emirates. Acta Hort. 736:399–404. FAOSTAT. 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Available at: http://faostat.fao.org/. Accessed on September 1, 2010. IPGRI, INRAA, INRAM, INRAT, FEM, PNUD. 2005. Descripteurs du Palmier dattier (Phoenix dactylifera L.). Institut international des resources phytogénétiques, Rome, Italie; Fonds pour I’Environment Mondial, Washington, Etas-Unis; Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement, New York, Etas-Unis; Institut national de la Recherche Agronomique, d’Algérie, du Maroc et de Tunisie. Jaradat, A. and A. Zaid. 2004. Quality traits of date palm fruits in center of origin and center of diversity. Food Agr. Env. 2(1): 208–2017. Jubrael, J. M., S. M. Udupa, and M. Baum. 2005. Assessment of AFLP-based genetic relationships among date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) varieties of Iraq. J. Am. Soc. Hort. Sci. 130(3):442–447. Macki, M. and M. Othman. 1997. ‘al Nakheel fi Sultanat Oman’ (Date palms in the Sultanate of Oman). Diwan of Royal Court, Sultanate of Oman. Mansouri, A., G. Embarek, E. Kokkalou, and P. Kefalas. 2005. Phenolic profile and antioxidant activity of the Algerian ripe date palm fruit (Phoenix dactylifera). Food Chem. 89:411–420. Ministry of Agriculture. 2006. The Famous Date Varieties in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Deposit No. 4944/1427. Ministry of Agriculture, Saudi Arabia. Musselman, L. J. 2007. Figs, Dates, Laurel and Myrrh: Plants of the Bible and the Quran. Timber Press, Inc., Portland, OR, pp. 114–119. Popenoe, P. B. 1973. The date palm. In Field Research Projects, H. Field (ed.), Coconut, Miami, FL, 247 pp. Pruessner, A. H. 1920. Date culture in ancient Babylonia. Am. J. Semitic Lang. Literatures 36(3):213–232. Uhl, N. W. and J. Dransfield. 1987. Genera Palmarum: A Classification of Palms Based on the Work of Harold E. Moore, Jr, L.H. Baily Hortorium and the International Palm Society, Lawrence, KS, pp. 214–217. Zaid, A. and P. F. de Wet. 2002. Botanical and systematic description of the date palm. In A. Zaid and E. J. Arias-Jiménez (eds.), Date Palm Cultivation. FAO Plant Production and Protection Paper 156 Rev. 1. Rome, Italy. Zehdi, S., M. Trifi, N. Billotte, M. Marrakchi, and J. C. Pintaud. 2004. Genetic diversity of Tunesian date palms (Phoenix dactylifera L.) revealed by nuclear microsatellite polymorphism. Hereditas 141:278–287.

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