The Status of Date Palm Cultivation and Date Production in Sudan

M.M.A. Khairi, M.I. Elhassan, F.A. Bashab

With an annual production of about 330,000 tons and a date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) population of about 8 million, Sudan ranks number 8 in the list of top date producing countries of the world. However, Sudan has tremendous potential to rank much higher in this scale due to extensive stretches of land between latitude 12°N and the Tropic of Cancer, availability of irrigation water and a suitable climate for date production. Traditionally accustomed to live on date palms by merely pollinating and harvesting the palms, growers in Sudan have to cope with environmental changes and adjust to adopt proper management practices to earn a decent income from date palm cultivation. Sudan has been relying on growing indigenous varieties of dry and some semi-dry dates but the past few years have seen an influx of highly reputed date varieties imported from the tissue culture laboratories in UAE and Saudi Arabia. Research programs on date palms in Sudan are progressing with focus on local selection for promotion of promising indigenous germplasm, male selection studies, propagation, protection, storage and cultural practices. Some efforts to utilize date palm parts in light industry have started but large scale enterprises are yet to come. An overall improvement in harvest, postharvest handling and preparation of dates for marketing in Sudan are required. Sudan is yet free from the devastating Red Palm Weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) Oliv, but termites (<i<=”” i=””>) Sjosted, white scale (Parlatoria blanchardii).Targ., greater date moth (Arenipsis sabella hampsim), dust mites (Oligonychus afrasiaticus) McGregor, and (O. pratensis). Banks and some rodent pests are endemic. The store pests Raisin Moth (Ephestia sp.) and the Grain Saw Beetle (Oryzaephilus surinamensis) cause a lot of damage. The recently brought in Green Scale (Astrolecanium sp.) is a menace in Sudan probably due to lack of predators, vulnerability of local cultivars, climate and lack of growers? awareness to handle an exotic pest. Sudan is yet free from the destructive Bayyoud disease caused by the fungus (Fusarium oxysporum albedinis). Black scorch (Thielaviopsis paradoxa j.), Graphiola leaf spot (Graphiola phoenicis) and inflorescence rot (Mauginiella scaettae) are known to exist. The organisms Fusarium moniliforme, Fusarium oxysporum, Aspergillus sp. and Helminthosporium sp. were isolated. Nematodes have also been isolated from infected date palms. But, several endemic diseases that are known by local names only exist, awaiting a thorough survey to diagnose and identify these diseases.</i

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