Extreme Agriculture

Like extreme sports, work in the date palms is highly skilled, a test of strength and endurance, and a bit on the dangerous side. Some of the skills required to grow dates include: balancing and carrying a 62 ft. ladder fully extended and in upright position, dangling from chains in the top of tall palm trees while wielding a razor sharp hooked machette, scrambling around free style in the crown of the tree while pollinating or tying bunches, swinging a 12 pound sledge hammer to cut offshoots at the base, etc. This is all often done in temperatures of 100 to 120 degrees all the while dodging date thorns and the occasional desert rattle snake. The date palm worker or "palmero", is paid on a piece rate or per tree basis, so work is done at a brisk pace. A good palmero is one of the most highly paid field workers, and righfully so! Dates are a very labor intensive crop to grow. Each palm may require up to 7 trips to the top annually to perform the various cultural pratices which include: dethorn, pollen flower cutting, pollination, thinning, tie down, bagging, and harvest. In beween climbing trees there's irrigation, tractoring, fertilizing, offshoot cutting, planting, and frond pick-up. As you can see, there's never a dull moment