Medjool Dates: Nature’s Candy of The Desert Southwest

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MEDJOOL DATES: NATURE’S CANDY OF THE DESERT SOUTHWEST

 

Donna George, owner of The Peanut Patch in Yuma, Arizona, shares the nutritional qualities of Medjool Dates “Nature’s Candy”, on Big Blend Radio.

Medjool dates are an epicurean treat that truly reflect the results of pampered care. These dates come from palms that are not grown from seed, but from offshoots which are suckers growing at the base of the mother palm. These offshoots are then chosen because they produce trees that will bear fruit superior in size and quality. It takes about ten years of devoted care before the palms reach full production, which is about 200 pounds per tree, per year. Dates are harvested from the end of August through the first weeks of October.

The Medjool date was originally grown in the Middle East and was not brought over to the US until 1927.

The Medjool Date Palms were dying of the Baioudh disease and this disease was killing off the Medjool almost to extinction. Dr. Walter Tennyson Swingle, who was a botanist with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, acquired eleven disease-free Medjool date offshoots in Morocco. The eleven offshoots were shipped to Washington DC where they received a severe vacuum fumigation, and then shipped to an isolated location in southern Nevada. After more than seven years in isolation, nine of the eleven offshoots survived. These offshoots, along with an additional 64 offshoots that were taken from the original nine offshoots, were transferred to the U.S. Date Garden in Indio, California in the summer of 1935. Offshoots were then planted in Florida, Texas, Arizona and a few other locations to find the best climate for the Medjool to grow and thrive in. 

Through trial and error it was determined that dates need exceptionally high summer temperatures, very low humidity and abundant water for their root supply. After much experimentation it was proven that there was only a small part of the southwest that provided the best all-round growing environment for the Medjool Date. The Yuma, Arizona and Bard, California region along the lower Colorado River is where the finest and largest quantities of Medjool dates are grown. Frequent floods, prior to the building of dams on the river, have created a superb soil bank. This coupled with organic fertilizers and an excellent climate have made this area the Medjool center of the world.

A healthy treat often referred to as “Nature’s Candy,” Medjool dates are fat free, sodium free, cholesterol free, and high in fiber, potassium and anti-oxidants.


The Peanut Patch

 

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