Optimizing pollination of dates (Phoenix dactylifera)

Northern Territory of Australia represented by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade

  • Project code: PRJ-008078

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Friday, June 22, 2012

  • Project completion date: Friday, August 28, 2015

  • National Priority: NEPI-Feasibility studies and industry literature reviews


Pollination and fruit thinning are critical processes in date palm production. Pollen parent in dates affects fruit quality, yield and annual productivity. As date palms are dioecious, artificial pollination enables the number of non fruit producing males in an orchard to be reduced. The aims of the proposed project are to work with existing date palm growers in central Australia to optimize pollen collection and storage to facilitate artificial pollination. Pollen will then be used to identify optimal timing of pollination and pollen parents for major commercial date cultivars. Different pollen parents are expected to affect fruit size, flesh and seed development, and time to fruit maturation. Techniques for manual pollination and pollen dilution will be described. These results will assist productivity of existing date farms while enabling optimal use of the extensive germplasm collections that have been assembled with RIRDC support. These collections are now at a suitable age to refine these management techniques.These investigations will assist existing growers to improve production techniques while ensuring future developments have information available for deciding appropriate pollenizer cultivars.


New and Emerging Plant Industries

Research Organisation

Northern Territory of Australia represented by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade

Objective Summary

The research and development objectives are follows:
1) Optimize conditions for date palm pollen collection and storage. This will enable any temporal differences between male and female plant flowering to be overcome both within a season and potentially over years.
2) The amount of pollen produced by different male plants will be quantified and any difference in their storage properties determined. This will help to identify the most fecund plants and cultivar specific storage needs.
3) Determine the period of stigma receptivity of a range commercial date palms and the effects that pollination during different stages in stigma receptivity has on fruit set and development. This will ensure growers target pollination activities for greatest fruit set efficiency.
4) Quantify the effect that different pollen sources have fruit development on the major commercial date cultivars. This will measure the fruit set efficiency, effects on fruit characteristics and time to maturity. This will be combined with pollen fecundity to identify male-female combinations that meet market opportunities.
5) Investigate the optimal methods for diluting pollen to maximize the number of plants that can be pollinated while ensuring the level of fruit set does not detrimentally detract from fruit quality and yield.
6) Describe visual characteristics and eating properties of the economically important date varies for the preparation of materials to educate consumers and raise the Australian public’s awareness of dates.