CULTIVATION OF THE DATE PALM

The date palm

The date palm can be considered the linchpin species in desert and pre-desert agricultural systems. Its cultivation is the most effective manner of protecting areas that are environmentally at risk. The species is highly adaptable to difficult soil and climate conditions, thanks to its evolution which has produced marked differentiation into numerous local cultivars and ecotypes.

Each of these has been subjected to natural and anthropic selective pressure through the age-old history of cultivation in tiny distribution areas under extreme conditions. Libyan date palm or Phoenix dactylifera germplasm is a highly interesting asset for both agriculture and the environment; it is an extremely useful source of genetic variability in cultivar improvement processes, aimed at overcoming some of the limits in production. The varietal component further contributes in a decisive manner to the quality characteristics of dates produced, based on local varieties that are typical of the region and have a high nutritional value.

Biological and production features

These natural and genuine characteristics make the Libyan date potentially a highly prized product. This highly rich and varied genetic pool can be extremely useful, especially with its organoleptic features and with the genetic potential it offers for cultivar improvement (resistance to plant pathogens, adaptability to extreme environmental conditions, increased production, improved conservation potential, etc.).

 The biological and production features of the date varieties present in the selected oases were identified through field investigation and laboratory tests performed by the specialized technicians from the Agency for the Development and Improvement of Date Palms and Olive Trees. Date palm genetic selection and improvement techniques and methods were analysed and implemented jointly by Italian and Libyan experts in the sector.