Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L) is one of the oldest plantation crops that is known for its sweet and nutritious fruits. The crop is tolerant to high temperature stress and drought. It is one of the economically important perennial plants in the Arabian desert of the Middle East and the Sahara desert in North Africa. In India, date palms are cultivated in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. Due to its adaptability to different regions, its cultivation is becoming popular in India.
Date palms originated in the Persian Gulf and Asian region and were domesticated more than 5,000 years ago. Date palms grown today are a result of successful selection and cultivation of plants over the years.
The plants produce a limited number of offshoots that are traditionally used for propagation. The seed germinated plants are undesirable as they show high variability of gender and variety. Hence, in vitro propagation of date palms is the best option and effective means to ensure true to type, gender specific, disease-free plants of required varieties and quantities throughout the year.
The world production of date fruits has increased tremendously and is expected to increase further in the coming years. The consumption and demand of date products are increasing every year and the production of dates has also increased to meet this demand. Date palm plants start to produce fruits at an average age of five years, and continue production with an average fresh fruit yield of 150 – 200 kg/tree/year up to 60 years. It yields date fruits, which are edible (and have a) fleshy pericarp with a seed. A wide variety of products like, fresh and pitted dates, date powder, (date crush), date syrup, date juice, date confectionery, date jam and date pickle are produced from date fruits.