Del Real Dates
Raymond Del Real
Del Monte, CA
Markets: Aptos and Monterey
Products: Medjool dates
The Del Real family has been growing fruits and vegetables for over 20 years. Their venture into the cultivation of dates began about nine years ago when Ray and his dad Josh purchased a few palm trees in the Imperial Valley to see how they would do.
The date palms thrived in the hot temperature and the low humidity of the desert. Ray and Josh now own about 1,000 palm trees on a 40 acre ranch in Winter Haven, CA. These palms produced tens of thousands of pounds of dates in their first major harvest last fall. Ray runs the date business from his office in Del Monte, and Josh oversees the ranch.
Medjool date trees start producing fruit when they are two to three years old and can live for 100 years. When they reach their prime at 15 years, they will produce 6,000 to 7,000 pounds of fruit. When a tree is about seven years old, it will generate three to eight offshoots that will be clones of the “mother.” Harvesting occurs during a five-week window in mid August into September. Stored in the right conditions, the dates stay fresh and moist year round.
What Ray enjoys most is introducing people to dates at the farmers markets. He offers generous samples, and in exchange receives looks of surprise and delight! Ray and his helpers offer their delicacies at 22 different farmers markets. They also sell and deliver to wholesale customers throughout Central California.
Considered a fancy, exotic fruit due to their sweet and luscious taste, dates were first introduced into California via Baja California by the Spaniards in about 1765. Medjool dates have been a staple food and royal delicacy of the Middle East for thousands of years. Dates are not only delicious, they are very nutritious. Five average sized dates contain about 100 total calories and are a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates, without the sodium or fat in other snacks.
Farmland: 40 acres in Winter Haven, CA
Weed Control: Not necessary
Pest Control: bags protect the fruit from birds, and organic fertilizer is used.
Water Use: drip tape and irrigation 2-3x/week
Workers: 5 full time year round, 20-50 full time at harvest time.
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